"When people live in the temperature-controlled, artificial environments that so many of us do, it becomes even more difficult to be aware of how we feel about a given season or type of weather, or why. We may realize that the onset of fall makes us anxious and uncomfortable but have no idea whether those feelings stem from some barely remembered past pain, or from physical destabilizers such as decreasing sunlight or the hormonal shifts within our bodies brought on by the changing season. On the other hand, people who live more deeply within the seasons — farmers, for example — might be too literal in their expectations of autumn, based entirely on the weather and the success of the harvest. They might not realize how deep their emotional connection to the season really is.

"Moreover, the world around us is changing, and so is our place in it. Climate change is an increasing concern, and with every passing year our lives and livelihoods are being affected by it. The almost limitless access to the world we are given by cell phones, the Internet, Skype, and other technologies has changed the way that many people work and interact with friends and colleagues. For some people, there is no need to ever leave the house if they don't wish to. At the same time, travel is faster and more convenient now than it has ever been, and a great number of people the world over take advantage of this fact, both for work and for pleasure, throughout the year.

"I have come to the conclusion that few of us have the relationship with the calendar that we think we do. Even when we feel that we have a handle on things, the world shifts a little bit and our experience changes. In order to achieve a real awareness of your emotional calendar, therefore, it's important to understand that — in addition to all the influences discussed in this chapter — the world has changed and is continually changing; more important, you must develop an honest and accurate perspective of how you personally are influenced by these changes.

"Everyone's emotional calendar is incredibly dynamic — constantly changing as the result of physical conditions, cultural seasonalities, shifts in the state of the world, and, of course, new experiences and events that take place in our day-to-day lives. The place to start, though, in coming to terms with your emotional calendar, is in your past. To find out what you are affected by, consider what you've been through."