Today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. It is a time of rebirth when the days start to get longer after the shortest day of the year. For many reasons, this time of the year has been celebrated across many religions throughout history as a time of rebirth and regrowth. In a way, this is the perfect analogy for this project.
When I think back on my past and how the culture where I grew up handled the changes we all naturally experience, I see gaps. We all seem to just keeping going along, and while things like graduating from high school or college were celebrated as major achievements, it felt like I went from a place of safety and understanding – doing what I had always done, education, into the great unknown, finding a ‘real’ job (not just an after school job). And as generations have changed, so has the movement from child to adult (now we have the teenage years), from high school student to college student, from college student to adult, from adult to life partner, from adult and partner to parent, from parent to grandparent, from child to orphan, from partner to widow(er), from employed to retired, etc, etc, etc. These milestones of life affect people differently but how the culture reacts to those experiencing these milestones also changes.
But how does this all tie into rebirth? Each time our life suddenly jolts us in a new direction, we have to change. We have to grow. Our sense of self and our life is reborn. We have to relearn how to be ourselves in this new environment. Each generation and each person’s experience of these things is different. In a way, no generation can truly understand those who came before it or after it. Each experiences life in a different way as do the people within those generations. Rebirth is part of the natural rhythm of life both on the macro and micro levels.
So, in our house we don’t necessarily celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali, Yule, or Saturnalia but, we do embrace the Solstice. The ending of another year and the beginning of another year and another season. We, or especially me, use this time as a period of reflection about what has changed, what has changed me, who I was at the start of the year and who I am now. And after the reflection comes who I want to be in my new beginning as a new year unfolds before me. This is what the Solstice and this time of year mean to me. And this project is just a larger version of this annual rebirth.