Not a particularly original idea, but I decided to set my novel over the course of one approximate year–in this case, beginning with Spring and ending in Winter. This fairly universal symbology allowed me to incorporate others: Water/Air/Fire/Earth and childhood/adolescence/young adulthood/maturity. It also indicates the direction and tone of the book: one could, alternatively, begin with winter (or any other), but that might not be so appropriate for tragedy.
I was particularly attracted to the notion of cycles in the world. One can see that from the very first paragraphs of the opening chapter (see Sample section if you haven’t already;} .) “Solid to liquid to ether to energy.” When one falls into sync with such cycles, one prospers–or at least progresses–and when one does otherwise, one suffers. This could be signaled by anything from the relatively harmless act of staying up too late one night, to something more designed to return a human being to the natural order, even if it means hitting rock bottom: like a plane crash.
And of course, as Ma Joad put it in The Grapes of Wrath: “Ol’ folks died off an’ little fellas come.”
I had a tremendous amount of fun embedding such potential meanings, from the word and sentence level to the overall structure, some of which undoubtedly came to fruition better than others. I hope you enjoy picking them, or, if need be, gathering the windfalls from the ground.