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The Seasons of the Soul

Using reflection to find balance amidst inner turmoil

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2022, 2023, 2024… The further I get, the more these years blend into each other. Even now, in the present, it’s hard to remember where I am. Much less looking back, as all the intervening years melt away…

It’s been so long so I’ve taken the time to reflect. How often do I tell myself that? Recently, far too often. That isn’t important, though. The point of reflection is to recenter myself, to once again plant my feet firmly on solid ground. I’ve allowed myself to become off-kilter, and I can feel the imbalance manifest within me. Lately, I’ve been irritable, on-edge, far too quick to pass judgement on myself and others. As always, I’m being too self-critical. I only see where I am, losing sight of how far I’ve come. I must remember to be easy on myself. It’s easy to show compassion to others, but not ourselves. Why?

In an attempt to regain perspective, I grab my journal and a pen and walk outside, finding a spot to sit down and write out my thoughts. There’s so much to say, yet I find myself falling silent. That self-critical voice rises up again. Is it because I’m lazy? Perhaps I should take advantage of technology and dictate something. Maybe, at some point, I will. For now, though, I carry on as I am. It’s important to write things out by hand, because it forces me to be deliberate, and to say what I really mean. I have to choose each word with care.

As I sit with my thoughts, a few things come to me:

1.

Life is short, and the world is beautiful.

Nothing is promised. Time passes quickly, and one day, we will die. It could be today. There is nothing we can do but come to peace with this fact. 

It’s important to be present. The breeze in the trees, in the bushes, that soft rustling above my head… it’s like a living instrument. The world itself is playing music. Branches move and sway, brushing against one another. The fence behind me rattles and clinks. It’s cold, but not overly so. White and grey clouds cover most of the sky, broken up by bits of porcelain blue. There’s a soft light, lacking the golden glow of direct sunshine, but still bright. The world is shaking off the browns and greys of winter. Daffodils have bloomed, but most of the trees are still bare. The very first flowering trees are blooming now. The long Island Sound is slate-grey, and behind it, the forested hills of Long Island are dark above the beige-brown beachside bluffs. Geese are coming back north- they honk below. Birds cry here and there. The world is still sleepy, but it’s waking up.

Winter has not yet given up its grip, but it will soon. The earth demands it. Unlike us, the seasons are promised their return. It’s pre-ordained. Winter will relent, we’ll blink, and in a flash of light and heat, spring, summer, and fall will come and go. Perhaps, later this year, I’ll be sitting in this very spot, and instead of delaying its exit, winter will be triumphantly announcing its return. 

I could only hope to be so lucky. As I said before: life is short, time passes quickly, and nothing is promised. Every day we wake up is a gift, and we should approach it as such. It’s easy to forget.

I would do well to remember.

2.

Life is beautiful, but it’s confusing, and it’s hard.

We owe ourselves the space and grace to validate our feelings, to acknowledge our struggles are real and legitimate. We desperately ask for answers we cannot have, constantly searching for meaning we do not see. It’s in our nature. We find it where it’s not and overlook it where it may be. We refuse to accept things we know to be true and fool ourselves into believing what isn’t.

Ultimately, the only truth I can speak for is that I don’t know anything. I am just one person. Billions have come before me, and billions, perhaps trillions, will come after me. Even beyond my humanity, I am just another organism, one tiny fiber in the incomprehensibly vast tapestry of life. Perhaps the best I can do is accept my station and find peace in it- again, to be present. This moment is all that I, or any of us, will ever have.

The air is cool and fresh and sweet. There are little pearls of water forming in the corners of my eyes, waiting for permission to fall. This endless search for meaning is emotionally tiring. It’s equally as difficult to accept that I know nothing… that I’ll never know anything. The answers I’m looking for are beyond the limits of my understanding. I’m not programmed to comprehend them.

I close my eyes and breathe long, deep breaths. A bird calls out somewhere in the distance. Others answer it. The sounds of society fill the space between. A hammer hits wood, echoing across the water. A plane drones in the sky. Somewhere in the distance, there’s the endless procession of cars on the highway, cells speeding down the artery of the nation. Now and then, the wind picks up, the rustling of the branches rises to a crescendo, and all the sounds of the world play as one orchestra.

3.

The world is beautiful, but ultimately, this life is nothing more than the people in it.

I’m blessed to know so many beautiful people, the light from whom matches the radiance of the sun now peeking through the clouds. I owe it to each of them to outwardly express my love, to tell them how they make the looming shadow of uncertainty and doubt less dark and cold. I, silly little creature that I may be, have so much love to give, and that feels like it can’t be an accident. If I have the power to do nothing else but love, I will- every single day until my last, and hopefully beyond, every last drop that I have to give. 

We are—at least I am—so foolish. It’s so easy to get frustrated with those we love, or to take them for granted. But at the end of the day, I would be nothing without them. I don’t know anything, but what I have learned in my time on this earth is that nothing but love is objectively good, and since we are capable of love and evil in equal measure, it is our duty, as people who are and have been loved, to put that love back out into the world. We mustn’t be as the dark curtain that smothers the light. We must let it in and reflect it back out. Even if you don’t believe you’re worthy of being loved, you are; therefore, you’re capable of loving, both yourself and others. Don’t swallow the only light you have.


The wind picks up, and the breeze carries with it a chill that nips and bites, herding me inside like an overzealous sheepdog. I leave this moment of reflection as I started it- knowing nothing. But at least I leave in the peace of having attempted to accept my place- to come to terms with my experience, as I understand it, firmly rooted in the present.

Because I’m human, insecurity, ego, and all my other faults will inevitably fill my head with air and cause me to drift off-ground and off-center again. When it does, I will have to find my way back.

I can do nothing else but try.

Andrew Mercein
Andrew Merceinhttps://ifyoureallywanttoknow.substack.com/
Andrew Mercein is a producer for the Mental Health Television Network. His mission is clear: to foster open, honest conversations about mental health, provide valuable resources, and build a community where no one feels alone. Andrew's vision for the network is to provide a platform where mental health struggles are met with understanding and compassion rather than stigma. He is eager to expand the network’s reach, making mental health resources accessible to all. A passionate writer, Andrew continues to share his personal experiences and professional insights, encouraging everyone to participate in changing how mental health is viewed globally. His dedication to making MHTN a transformative platform reflects his belief in the power of media to bring about positive change and his commitment to ensuring that no one has to face mental health challenges alone.

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