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  • Christian Lopez

What I Learned In 100 Seasons

As I turn 25, I can't help but laugh... I feel like I outwitted the devil. How did I become confident enough to overcome all the negative voices in my head? Most people turn 25 and say they are getting old, but I feel young. I feel reborn like something, or someone has given me a second chance at life. Things were not always this way. Sad to say, but I was not always this person.

Winter 2004 was cold. My mother and sister relocated to Florida, but I could not go with them for the first time in my life. Having the court separate you from the people you love is a heinous act. Nevertheless, I was eight years old when I moved in with my dad. He was and still is a great man, but outside circumstances made the transition difficult for both of us. I remember feeling alone and abandoned by the people I loved the most. Loneliness carves a hollow man. My perspective was not the reality, but I didn't understand the situation and accepted blame for things that I shouldn't have as a kid. Compound this with my dad's long work schedule, and you start to develop a young melancholy who becomes accustomed to winter. Little did I know the empty pit this would create. However, winter is a fundamental part of the Earth's cycle and for man as well. I believe life's suffering yields gratitude for the things we have in our life.

I did not experience another spring until 2010. My dad sent me to a catholic school to get away from Garfield and for what he had hoped to be a better life. Spring has always been my favorite season. It is not too cold, not too hot, and the temperature sits just right. New flowers bloom, and you have a sense of freshness that takes over the air. A new enchanting belief that something is possible. I found this on Tamblyn field during our summer pre-season football camp, where I was able to excel and stand out against the other kids in my class.

There was something I had inside of me that they just didn't. This spring was exciting at first. I often thought I would fall back into winter, but the newness of everything I was experiencing kept me afloat. This spring lasted for four years (the most prolonged spring I have ever experienced to date). I did not understand how to reap my harvest and bear fruit. I did not understand how to adapt and change with the seasons. When we become stuck in our ways, we block the blessings that are laid out before us. Some of the seeds planted during my high school years did not bring a harvest until after graduating college, but delayed gratification brings the biggest blessing. Seeds of understanding were planted that would fundamentally change who I was as a person (after further reflection, this was not for the better). I started to see society's true colors and the ugly sides of human nature (stay tuned for future articles on the topic). I began to see the cruel things people would do and say. I started to see some of these dark sides of human nature in my actions, which I would repent for later. I enjoyed the harvest when I was blessed with the opportunity to go to school out-of-state and take on a new experience that, in the end, would change my life.

I enjoyed the summer for the first time in a long time. With summer comes a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction for the work that is already complete. In my opinion, summer is the most dangerous season because we let our guard down. The summer heat brings complacency because we want to relax, regroup, and "enjoy the summer." Interestingly enough, my summer only lasted nine months. During my freshman year at Muhlenberg College, I saw the other side of America (kids were not pushing '96 Hondas). Muhlenberg showed me real money and a preview into the upper-class. It was the summer, but I already knew what seeds I was saving for the spring. I was living on a high (no pun intended) in college, doing what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. For the first time in my life, I could live without worries. My schedule was in my control, I had great food to eat all the time, and my friends lived upstairs. I've always heard the higher you go, the harder you fall. Still, we need to experience these falls before we can understand their importance.

Fall is a beautiful season, depending on how you look at it. The changing colors and cool breeze are a great experience, but it is also a season of death. The green leaves transition to vibrant reds and oranges, but what we perceive as beauty eventually leads to the leaves' end. My mother's words on the phone that my cousin had passed sent a sensation through my body that I've never experienced before. February 24, 2015, what a way to end the summer. The mental fall of my cousin's passing felt different than others I have experienced in my life. As I reflect on this moment, I realize the pain that the fall brings can be the same pain that motivates you to take life more seriously. The death of my cousin was a wake-up call that you only get one chance. If I was going to make something of myself, I had to grow up and take the next step in life. Maybe this is why falls were created. If we spent too long in summer, how would we know it is time to move on in life? My fall did not last long; being an immature melancholy, I quickly brought winter upon myself.

The interesting thing about winter is how we find ourselves suffering in silence. I spent the next three years here, but this winter was different. Being that I was at college, I had all the tools and resources to grow. This winter, unlike the first one, didn't feel stagnant. I received immediate feedback on my development with the grades and opportunities I was receiving at Muhlenberg. But I wasn't aware of the mental and spiritual hole I was digging for myself every day. I've learned it is easy to fake a smile, but it is impossible to fake happiness. What good does a smile do when someone makes eye contact with you? If alone, you are going through hell. In life, the perceptions that people have about you are not important. The beliefs you carry with you about yourself and others are what will lead to your happiness. Two critical conversations I had with my grandpa and my best friend's dad during my senior year of college saved me from this winter.

Spring started during my last semester of college. The seeds I planted throughout my four years began to spring. I was beginning to understand who I was and what I stood for. This spring was shorter but more profound than my previous spring. The harvest that would follow this spring would set the course of my life and give me an inner voice that I could trust. The summer did not start after I graduated college. I did not feel a real sense of accomplishment when I walked across the stage and received my diploma. I figured this is why they called the ceremony the commencement. As I returned home from my four-year hiatus, I met a man who would change my life forever. He gave me a book to read, and upon its completion, I could feel the summer heat. This small gift was the switch that showed me the harvest of my four years in Muhlenberg. One book after another, I started to learn truths about life and suffering. I reflected on my life and reviewed my successes and my failures. I investigated my passions and my deepest desires. I rediscovered the child my mother left behind in the Winter of 2004.

Fast forward to the spring of 2021. I just turned 25, and I've learned seasons don't have to be seasonal. By the decisions and choices we make every day, we can direct the outcome of our life. I've learned that if we don't deliberately choose where we will end up in life, we will end up somewhere in life by default. The thing about seasons is they will always come, no matter where in the world we reside. Suffering, Change, Harvest and Pain are inevitable, but we can enjoy the journey if we're aware of the changing seasons. If we get good at this, we can maneuver our way through the seasons to reach our full potential.



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