November 5, 2014

Embracing Autumn.

leaves sun autumn fall tree

Fall is romanticized to the point that it has become its own cliché.

There is nothing wrong with pumpkin-spiced lattes and holiday décor and such, but as I watch the familiar scene unfold, I can’t help but wonder if our romanticizing has stopped us short of what we are meant to be experiencing.

I worry that fall and the coming winter have become yet another backdrop for our scripted lives.

Autumn is a story unto herself, whispering of change around us, but rarely within us.

We often watch Octobers and Novembers and Decembers the same way we watch films—detached, but indulging in the drama of it all, like voyeurs. What if this transfer of seasons was different, though?

What if, in the midst of the familiar, we began to take fall personally?

What if we aligned our bodies with the movements of the earth in such a way as to internalize seasons—to unearth the reds and oranges of our existence beneath the months-long cover of green?

What would it look like to move in unison with seasons? What would it look like to accept every kind of change in life, even death, with the same boldness through which the earth dramatically revolutionizes the ground every few months?

There are three truths that help me in the kind of soul-mining it takes to experience a meditative autumn and winter:

1. The leaves are dying.


Autumn leaves cause the world to erupt into momentary brilliance, but we have locked up talk about the fact that what we are admiring is really a brazenly radiant death.

We are ultimately terrified of death because we are terrified of those barren grounds within our own souls, but the living is here now and the leaves show us how good it is to turn, unveiling crimson reds to a beige world. Leaves show us how to do our living intensely. They show us that every change is a tremendous one, whether or not our eyes have been adjusted to the miraculous.

2. The trees have secrets.


Naked trees are the antithesis of scripted lives. Nature mocks us with her easy transitions, with her long-limbed arms reaching already into spring.

I wonder if we have gotten so used to the routine of life that we have forgotten, or maybe never even learned, how to reach through noise to an easiness of the soul?

In the coming weeks, my goal is to be fully present.

It is healing to watch the play of sunrise through trees disrobing for winter, and to let my body feel that same sun, a reawakening to the extraordinary within the soil of the ordinary: the way my child calls my name, for example, or the way the intricate coordinates of my body bend and give in stretch, or the way winter air stings my cheeks and makes the day suddenly urgent, or the way steam from my tea dissipates like light-cut fog into the air, anchoring me to the ground in the same way plant roots reach.

I am attempting to reach for cognizance of my body and its place in the present. The soul laid bare, the skeletal soul, is as brilliant as the drama of the trees in their revealing of bone and deep, anchored roots.

3. The moon knows of shadows.


Around September 22nd, the sun and moon aligned with the earth so that for one day, the daylight was exactly as long as the night. Light and dark aligning. No repression of darkness, but a balance.

To refuse to admit the darkness we house in our bones is to refuse the full experience of life.

As the planets align again and again over the coming months, we should pry open the locked trunks of both dark and light and dismantle parts of ourselves we think we know.

What is it within my soul, I wonder, that presses so hard against the change of seasons in my own life? Where did that fear that lies within that well of control originate?

I need, we need perhaps, to find our equinoxes, that equal balance between light and dark. They both must be mined, those springs and falls, because power is always lying dormant beneath pain.

Leaves and trees and moons…those are the riddled sphinxes of fall.

So let’s take these last dregs of autumn personally, falling within ourselves to the crooked skyline of our own souls and then stand like children astonished at the coming parade of winter, demanding things of the sky and those bone-borne trees.

Let’s live well in November, friends, and on into the new air of winter with all the boldness, audacity and gracefulness through change as does this blazing autumn.



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Author: Meg Ainsworth

Apprentice Editor: Alicia Wozniak / Editor: Emily Bartran

Image: Bark/Flickr

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