It's February (already!) and I'm listening to the birds sing about the coming of Spring: cardinals, blue birds, robins, redwing black birds, cedar waxwings, mocking birds, plus the rooster from a couple of house down. Indeed, chickens have come the city over the past few years as families learn to appreciate fresh eggs and "walking yard flowers" as my grandmother called them.
These are the songs of life and songs of connection. They also call to mind other songs. I spend my time these days listening to stories. As I hear them, I also quietly search for the hidden songs of life.
Some are happy songs of celebration: ''I got the interview!" "I landed the job!'' ''I understand what I need to do next.'' While I appreciate hearing about success, celebrations, and triumphs, the nature of my profession means that I hear many more melodies in a minor mode.
These songs often come filled with stanzas of sorrow or regret. ''My husband lost his job and we don't know what we're going to do.'' ''My grandmother passed away this week - you know she's the one that really raised me?'' ''My wife told me she's leaving me.'' Life often seems to offer too many struggles, sad times, and difficult challenges.
As a professional, I conduct my practice with a solution-focused stance, using information, knowledge, and techniques gleaned from positive psychology, social constructionism, and appreciative inquiry. But I also respect the value of the darker spaces, times when an individual must experience a lowering of expectations so that she can begin to re-align her life in a way that may offer deeper meaning and satisfaction.
When I discern that the individual needs a companion on this journey, I walk quietly with them into the fog and even the darkness of the minor mode. After all, you can't change direction if you can't see where you are. I also seek to hear the possibilities of a new calling or of new options, possibly ones that will eventually reveal a transposition to a more fulfilling life for my fellow sojourner.
I believe that sadness can be embraced and even appreciated for what it brings to our attention. In contrast to happier times, sadness offers an invitation for deeper reflection. With compassion, curiosity, and courage, we can listen to this melody and cultivate new perspectives, hopefulness, and energy for moving forward.
Songs of life come in major and minor keys. We are enriched when we learn to appreciate them both. But please consider inviting a companion to walk with you on this journey of discovering new possibilities. And remember to listen for the coming of Spring!
-David Harris, MTS, MS
Career and Relational Coach
Rock Springs Positive Coaching, Caring, and Counseling, Inc.