My tradition’s yearly installment of a ritual honouring Cernnunos always hits me somewhere deeper than I walk in expecting, but this year his message may as well have come with a gift tag with my name on it.  It was one I wish I’d been able to hear a week sooner, but one I may have needed a little pain with to really absorb and appreciate.

He spoke of hard times, both ones we’ve endured in the past year and those yet to come.  He spoke of the fight we must be willing to put up to keep our spirits alive.  He spoke of enjoying life despite hard times, using the light and energy from those memories to recharge us when life seems bleak.  Sometimes it’s not the moment of the belly laugh we need as we’re short of breath with tears streaming from our eyes.   Sometimes it’s the memory of that laugh, with whom it was shared, or how it felt not to care who heard or saw us or what they thought about it that inspires us in the moments when we most want to scream, cry, and give up on life.  It’s these moments that make that laugh a beautiful gift.  Our ability to remember and relive is magickal and transformative, but only if we use it.

My four-year old stepson is in crisis mode every time he leaves our house.  In his mind the world is ending.  He’s leaving us, and that thought takes over his young mind.  It’s a heartbreaking routine, but every week we remind him of all the fin we shared that day and assure him he’ll be back to do it all again before he knows it.

Oh, how we adults have convinced ourselves we have grown past this type of behaviour.  Frankly, we haven’t.  In fact, we have made it all even more complicated with complexes”, excuses, addictions, and people who enable and feed our negative outlook.  The four-year old moves on with life.  The :mature adults” dwell, hold grudges, and give up on those “fun” moments.  We forget how to live and begin to merely survive, or worse, give in to self-defeat and stop worrying about survival altogether.  I won’t let the four-year old handle my “good china”, but I will take a lesson from him on what’s really valuable.

This leads me to wonder why adults tend to use our ability to remember only to dwell in the negative past.  Why do we readily dig up abuses and even the most petty arguments we had as children but not remember the hug or kind word we received just yesterday?  Furthermore, why do we forget how far this fight to keep the spirit alive has brought each one of us?

Yesterday I stopped myself short of complaining about lugging my overnight bag to and from work everyday.  Merely two years ago I would not have picked the bag up, let alone carried it for 20 minutes.  I realized then how much I fall prey to this mentality.  Had I forgotten the long road I’ve taken to get here?  Had I forgotten that I could not walk to the bathroom let alone the thirty blocks I walked today to run errands?  Had I forgotten the days I spent bracing myself against counters so my customers would not notice I was unable to stand on my own?  Had I forgotten that up until recently I had been one sick day away from derailing my career path?  I am not functional, working overtime, planning a wedding, and thriving.  I found the fuel to learn, research, and execute a plan, all while stuck in a constant fog of confusion and exhaustion.

In the worst days of my illness I had never given up, but a little stress was going to break me?  Why?  How?  The memories flood back to me even now.  On my darkest days, when I was tired and weak, I was reminded by everyone around me that the sun was still shining, I was still loved, and there was still joy to be found in life.  Every time Hubby tried, with tears of helpless frustration in his eyes, to make me smile and laugh, every time a friend took me to the mall or sent me a silly text message, or every time I had a rare good day and was able to forget the pain gave me fuel to keep going, keep fighting, and keep growing.  I never lost faith, and I never let the spirit die.

That fact, above all else, is what hit me when I heard Cernnunos speak to me.  I had forgotten the long arduous road behind me.  I had forgotten the scars, the landmarks,a nd the victories that were no small feat to overcome.  I had forgotten every moment I had been a warrior, and I had dismissed the belly laugh, the sunny day, and the touch of a lover for insignificant everyday hassles and annoyances.  I was throwing a tantrum over a broken crayon.  I certainly would never accept this behaviour from the four-year old.  Why on earth was I accepting it from myself?  It certainly wasn’t helping my in any way?  Help, not hinder, Autumn!

The message Cernnunos gave was not a bubble wrapped, candy coated assurance that everything will be copacetic as long as we think happy thoughts and keep a firm hand on the pixie dust.  It was to remind us of the reality that bad things will happen, probably to you and me, and we will be miserable and strained if we refuse to find some reminder that those bad things do not rule our lives, nor can we relinquish our responsibility to the earth because we’re tired of the bad days.  The message was, you might as well find some enjoyment in it and let that enjoyment get you through the rough spots.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many more of these recharging moments you begin to recognize once you start to acknowledge and appreciate them.  They’ve always been there. You’ve just been too wrapped up in a tantrum to notice.

Go now, whistle while you work.