“Autumn …. the year’s last, loveliest smile” – William Cullen Bryant (author)
I love Autumn.
Wandering through the heaths and parks, you can’t miss the distinct inward turn of energy in the air. An absolute contrast to the exuberance of summer. Its as if the trees have decided to say goodbye to all the partying and socialising of the previous months. Discarding their fancy bling, wiping off their make-up.
The bright greens slowly turn to gold, rust, brown, yellow. A whole spectrum of my favourite colours. It does something to your heart.
Not quite the same sensation of spring. When you spot the first buds in spring, your heart leaps in amazement at the hardiness and resilience of life. It seems like such an impossible feat that for that moment, everything seems possible. Hope becomes a closer friend.
Autumn is somewhat different. It’s less in your face. Its less of a huge jump in emotion. Here, the colours steep into your body and soul, like orange liquor slowly drenching through a light genoese sponge. As you walk through the trees, you absorb, absorb and absorb, and you come out feeling comforted, soft and utterly delicious.
I always marvel at how easily they change. The trees. Losing their chlorophyll, getting ready to discard their leaves.
Without blame. Without anger. Without dragging their feet.
To paraphrase Paolo Coelho, they don’t pretend nothing is happening nor do they vehemently protest the turning weather, saying they are not ready.
We hate change. We try our damnedest to hold on to what we have even if the current situation bears little resemblance to what once was. We cry, we lament about how unfair life is. Why me? We are despondent. Our bodies and hearts feel mercilessly battered. Our lives meaningless.
You can say human life is complicated. but actually, so is a tree’s.
A lot of external conditions that we think mark a change in season are actually unreliable.
Like the weather. Sometimes frost comes early, sometimes the heat continues till November. And you can’t rely on the insects or animals either. Those that are with you during summer might decide to leave early or get wiped out by disease. The intensity of light is also not dependable especially in a country like the UK where whole summers can go by without an ounce of sunshine, the sun blocked out by thick clouds of grey.
So instead, the trees ignore all this noise and choose to focus on one specific but reliable stimuli – the amount of light.
Each year, after the Autumn Equinox, the earth’s journey shifts so that the days become shorter and the nights longer. Each year. Without fail.
And that’s what the trees respond to.
Maybe deciding on a change would be easier as well if we focused on that one reliable indicator in every situation?
I keep thinking about all the relationships I held onto past their sell-by dates. But I love him, we’ve been through so much, things might change, we can work it out, etc. In the muddle of all that noise, I forgot to make a decision based on something that hadn’t changed in a long time – I wasn’t happy. And I hadn’t been happy in a long time.
Obviously the same criteria can’t work in every situation but I’ve come to realise that that might actually be our task. Not to really make a decision but to seek that unique fail-safe indicator in each situation.
To drown out the voices around you about what should matter, how you should decide.
To instead explore your own limits, your truth, to recognise your own non-negotiables.
To grasp how you want to live your life.
And what you want your life to be about.