One of nature’s lessons is that new life depends upon the collapse, death and decay of the old. Destruction and creation go hand in hand and are mutually dependent. Nothing grows forever unchecked – even the cancer will have to cease expanding when the host dies.
We tend to celebrate the growth and the up swings. Partly because they make us happy, but I suspect they also make us happy because they are socially reinforced. To be in a decay stage, falling apart, diminishing, withdrawing, and the such is associated with failure. Our stories link progress with growth, expansion, accumulation and increase. Therefore if we’re going the other way, there’s something wrong with us and we should hide it and feel shame.
I’ve spent my adult life with phases of burnout, meltdown and full-on collapse. I’ve spent a lot of time hiding them, and I’ve spent time dealing with how uncomfortable some people are if I even admit I have problems. Gods help you if you want to work with the falling away, because then you’re self indulgent, wallowing in it, feeling sorry for yourself. When did we mostly agree that being relentlessly cheerful and progress-orientated was the way to go and that anything else is suspect?
Breaking down is part of the process of being alive, and it is utterly necessary. You have to break open a seed before it can shoot. You have to break down the old leaves to make new soil. Changing our minds, feelings, world view is a big process and you can’t do that without dismantling the self. These are the autumn and winter parts of the soul’s cycle. Our Wheel of the Year stories do not tell us to howl, go mad and burn our house down. They tell us to rest, to be still and quiet through the gentle darkness, not screaming and rending.
There is a needful place for the tearing and yelling, for the breaking of things, of self and mind. Those lovely fluffy chicks of spring do not get to hatch unless they can savage the egg they are in. Consider what that might be like, when you’ve lived inside an egg your whole life and now you have to destroy the egg, or die.