“They must often change, who would be constant in happiness and wisdom.” Confucius
What do you feel about autumn? Does it depress or invigorate you? What is good about this change?
Living in the Midst of Nature
My yard is almost completely covered with oak leaves, and walking down the driveway is very tricky with the abundance of acorns and the slippery leaves. When I walk down to get the mail, I have to be in the present giving full attention to where I step. No matter how fast I’ve been moving through the day, I am forced to slow down.
Yesterday it was in the mid-seventies and I had the back door open while I ate lunch. A strange sound like a light sprinkle of rain arose. I looked up from the book I was reading, but it was dry outside. The sound continued sparking my curiosity, so I walked to the door and looked up into the old trees in the yard. A wind was blowing, visible only at the very top of the trees, and as it increased, a shower of golden leaves blanketed the deck and yard.
Some mourn the loss of summer and find the autumn depressing, but the changes in nature are so dramatic that I continue to be awed by them and am reminded that these changes are natural. We can accept the change or be unhappy about it. It really is our choice, and much of life is like that.
Awakening to the Wisdom of Change
Confucius’ quote reminds us that resisting change won’t bring us happiness or wisdom. Change is a natural element of life. In order to experience happiness, we must be flexible, accept the fact we can’t control everything or everyone in our lives. When things aren’t going our way, we need to see what we can learn from the experience or how we can reframe our response to a more positive assessment of the situation.
Wisdom is also about change and growth. The wise elders are the ones who can see the depth and meaning in life as it changes and evolves. They are in touch with the eternal. They see that, although we experience physical changes through the seasons, birth and death, moving out into the world and finding new environments, these are all physical experiences. What really matters is how we see and deal with the change and our willingness to look deeper.
Limitations of Resistance
The unwise among us are the ones who resist any and all change. They create a safe cocoon in which anyone and anything that does not fit is rejected. They defend their way of doing things to the death—the death of the relationships they have or to literal death. When we have been close to nature and attentive to its cycles, we know how futile this is.
Finding Happiness in Change
I am much happier than I’ve ever been. Do I have everything I want? No. But over the years I have learned to be more flexible and that has reduced the stress in my life. I am more accepting of the things I cannot change. I love Alan Watts’ comment: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
This year I am definitely dancing with autumn, hiking up and down the mountains, sliding down slopes of dry leaves, looking up into the blue sky to be dazzled by the brilliant red leaves waving over head. Like autumn, my life is in great flux, learning to promote my books, flooded with new ideas like the shower of leaves blanketing my yard. I hardly know which way to turn, but it’s all good because it is taking me some place I want to go.
Nurturing Our Spiritual Selves
Now the weather is beautiful and I can be outside, but soon the winter will come with cold and snow and unpredictable weather. Then it will be time to go inside, literally and figuratively. I’ll spend more time promoting my book online, finding more silence and time for thinking about what to do next, snuggling under the blanket in front of the fire, going deeper. What’s nice about winter is that if we have nurtured our own interiors, we have no need to fear this time. And if we haven’t, it’s a good time to start clearing up our “stuff” without the distractions of sunshine and flowers blooming.
So, this week I’m going to plunge into the leaves, dance through them with my rake and move them into the plastic bags the city insists I use (okay, I’m still not happy about this, but I’m moving on). And once it becomes too cold for pleasant hiking, I’ll just turn on the music and dance inside.
What do you like most about the autumn? What does it mean to you?
© 2012 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5
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