Today is Spring Equinox. Except it’s not. Not here, in the Southern Hemisphere, in the nation of Uruguay, where a fierce brief summer is abruptly coming to a close. In keeping with global warming, the weather here has been unusually wild, hot, and stormy these past few months, and today, cold rain pours down, like a curtain closing on the season of beaches and Carnaval. Fall has blown in, the days are shorter, we are headed into the cold.
My parents both grew up in Uruguay, and this was the pattern by which they measured time. But I have spent my entire life – until now – living in the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe and the U.S. I’ve visited Uruguay over the years, but never been here long enough to feel the seasons change around me. I can’t wrap around this inversion of annual rhythms I’ve known since since childhood. I stare at the calendar and dutifully repeat: April is in the fall, September in the spring. I want to believe it. I know it’s true for half the world. But it feels a bit like writing with my feet and walking with my hands. Or crossing a threshold into an alternate world, the kind usually found down rabbit holes or through psychedelic drugs.
My wife, children and I are in Uruguay for a year. We came for many reasons: to make a film, to write and do research, to steep linguistically, to engage with the culture, to grow, to connect. Above all, through our work and our acts and our quietest moments, to connect. Whether this is, for me, a homecoming or a venture into foreign wilds, I still can’t say.
A friend recently returned from Greenland and told me that, in Greenlandic, the word for “weather” is also the word for “consciousness.” What does this say about our ties to the natural world? Our psychic yoke to the seasons? The potency of our inner storms?
My heart is divided between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and perhaps it always will be. There are worse ways to live, worse destinies than stretching your heart over and over in an attempt to encompass everything you love, across the globe. Sometimes stretching your heart means breaking it. You love a place that treats you with unkindness. You love a place you can’t return to. You climb and fall. You call out and can’t tell whether anyone has heard. You feel your solitude, your utter You-ness, your precarious stance between worlds. But it can be a good force, too, this breaking of your heart. It can mold you back together in a new shape, one that’s unrelentingly genuine, a shape like no other, a shape that strives to embrace the world.
What an unrivaled gift, to belong, as we all do, to this mysterious planet. Today it is autumn. Today it is spring. Today there is a turning of the Earth.
I wish you a happy equinox and the most joyous fallspring or springfall you could hope for.