As I sit high above the valley, I watch squirrels scamper about, a sea of wheat wave in the wind, and the sun sink beyond the tree line in an array of stunning colors spread throughout the sky. I close my eyes and feel a cool breeze hinting of fall’s reemergence, and I inhale the smell of wet leaves and smoky air. This valley, these fields, those trees have blessed my sight my entire life; it’s where I grew up, it’s where I played with my sisters, it’s where I went sledding in the depths of December.

The concept of seasons fills my mind, and my heart swells when I think of the beauties that come with each season. Fall is for vibrant, fiery hues covering hillsides and pumpkin pies, winter is for pure white powder and full greenery contrasting sharply in a perfect balance of life and momentary pauses, spring is full of the promise of rebirth and all things new, and summer is the time when bright sunshine and summer storms fill the land with changes and radiant joy.

Unfortunately, I’m snapped out of my dreamy thoughts as I an alarm sounds, reminding me of my mind numbing responsibilities and mundane schedule. For with the fiery leaves and heavy clouds comes a new semester, new responsibilities, a new job, and more study time, accompanied by significantly less traveling, seemingly no exciting adventures, or really anything noteworthy. After a summer spent making the highway my home or soaring in airplanes to distant parts of the country, how am I supposed to settle into this semester? How am I supposed to rejoice in my circumstances when I’m stir-crazy and constantly in need of time I don’t have? Procrastination, a tight budget, and a heavy workload have allied to destroy my life; I’m just sure of it. What is this life made of, what does it hold, why should I love it?

Almost immediately, it hits me: seasons.

There are seasons of school, seasons of relationships, seasons of people, seasons of life. Nothing lasts forever, and nothing is stagnant. Just as the seasons change and have their own defining traits and beauties and challenges, so do the seasons of life. My summer was a season of growth and incredible hardships, great challenges and a lot of tears; it was also a time of incredible joy, new experiences, and learning to love myself. I’ve never laughed so hard or cried so often, and I’ve never made more memories than I did in that 3 month period. Today? I’m drowning in homework, my job, and extracurricular commitments, as well as trying to plan my college transfer next year and the rest of my life.

But just like the seasons I see in the valley, beauty abounds, if I’m willing to look for it. The hour long bus ride to school in the morning? I get to watch the sun rise over fields and turn the outskirts of Kansas City golden. The hours and hours of homework? I get to sit in coffee shops, watch dozens of souls walk by, and study subjects I love. When I feel alone and friendless? I get to smile at a few more strangers, and maybe I’ll even get to have a conversation with one in there somewhere.

The beauty and value of a season is in direct correlation with the perspective of an individual. Just as one can emphasize the apparent lack of life and the abundance of dreariness in winter, it’s easy to see mundane routines as nothing but smothering obligations. However, one can choose to emphasize the beauty of snowcapped pine trees, vibrant red birds, and hidden beauties in the winter; similarly, finding beauty in the little moments can make any season of life stunning in its own way.

As you continue this semester, this year, this season, look up. Appreciate the clouds. Smile more. Make someone’s day. Forgive again. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. And more importantly, know that at any time in life, there’s always beauty. It might be hidden, flittering through gloom like the red bird does in winter, or it might be obvious, like the sunset over my valley. Find the beauty, and learn to love the seasons.