Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Falling Away

I love autumn. I love the way it bobbles back and forth between the sweet, hot, brightness of summer and the bitter, cold, darkness of winter. It is a time to watch the flowers fade and let the leaves fall away.

In the beginning of the season, much like relationships, the suspense of not knowing what will happen next, or what I want to have happen next, is exciting and titillating. The richness of the colors can seem like a blob of un-thinned oil paint on a palate; too thick and dense to fully absorb. No, this time of year, the colors can’t rightly be called colors. The intensity, the fiery and fully saturated hues, are nature’s way of keeping me guessing, anticipating the changes in my future before I settle in for a little rest and reflection. Its nature’s way of reminding me that there will be opportunities in my life that I can choose to seize, or let pass.

Fall is a metaphor for life and love. We have to be willing to let some things go; let them fall away from our cradling limbs. As parents, we instinctively know this will happen as our children get older. We know there will be a time when we will be challenged to loosen our grip on their tender stems. They may float off in a direction we did not anticipate. They may land in a place we think is too risky, or unsafe, like the leaf that is carried away in a rapidly rushing river. We have no way of knowing what adventures are around the bend, or that the shore they are tossed upon may be exactly where they need to be; an undiscovered terrain – ripe with the opportunities for both peril and potential.

But we also have to loosen our grip on things besides our children. Things like, oh, unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. We gain nothing by tightly closing our fist around the faded images of our expected life story, and we risk clinging too long to that which previously sustained us, and yet now, no longer lights us up. If we keep hanging on, as the full flush of life is wicked away bit by bit; the images fade and curl up into tighter, less resilient forms we no longer recognize.

Yes, nature knows that in order to bear fruit year after year, the flora must yield and give way, and the hips, all kinds of hips, store energy and begin to plump in preparation for next year’s bloom. Fall leads into the winter for a reason. It’s a necessary hiatus for plants as well as people; a time to reflect and refine our path. For relationships, it’s a time to settle in and get comfortable with each other. This is the time where you learn if you can abide each other in a season of ease.

Besides, who wants to bloom and fruit all year long? It’s too much work! If I’m forced to produce and fruit continually, I can assure you that some of what I bring to bear on the world and my loved ones will not be my full, ripe and juicy best. Bitterness is born of too much, well, too much of anything, including unwieldy and unrelenting growth.

So I am preparing for a season of reflection by opening up. The aspects of my life that have already served their purpose are free to fall away and make room for my new dreams, goals, loves and lessons. I have to open my hand in order to grasp what is in front of me – a hand can only hold so much. I can only seize today if I am willing to let go of yesterday.

I’ll be back later. Right now I’m busy falling away.

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