Friday, October 19, 2012

WHISPERS OF LEAVES – Heeding the Wisdom of Autumn

How one defines the seasons of one's life is pretty arbitrary. Take fall for example.
I know some 50-somethings who act like they’re already anticipating the end, fading and molding away. And I know a few 80-somethings who still wake up every day expecting change and growth, celebrating life by donning their brightest colors. (I like that quote by baseball icon Satchel Paige, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”)

Nonetheless, each of us reaches a certain age where it’s hard not to realize that there’s more of your life behind you than ahead.

      I may not be as fresh and flashy as I was
      in my spring…but my roots have grown deep.
      I know who and where I am.

Just the other day, as I shuffled through some whispering leaves, I was musing on these parallels between this stage of life and this season of the year, and how many of them really apply to me.

Clearly, at least by the measure of years, I’m well into the autumn of my life. And, sure enough, a few of my leaves are withering and dropping.

I may not be as fresh and flashy as I was in my spring, as cocksure as in summer, but a few fires, droughts and storms have sent my roots deep, made me strong. I know who and where I am. You could say I'm just starting to show my best and truest colors.

As autumn comes, at least up here in the North Country, life heads indoors. Sap slows, animals settle into cozy burrows and dens; people, into their homes.

Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen in life too? Like they say, don’t our creative juices, our vitality and engagement with the world around us start retreating in our autumn? More and more, as our physical reach diminishes, shouldn’t our lives
turn inward?

This is where the parallels start to diverge for me.

        I want my experience, my knowledge,
        to be like blocks of granite…spread out
        before me, a row of stepping stones to
        more and deeper truths.

No one doubts that the autumn of the year will yield to winter and then, inevitably, to yet another spring. The autumn of one’s life, by most accounts, will not. I’m not sure I can accept that as graciously as a tree, a bear—or a snowbound Minnesotan—accepts its annual four- or five-month dormancy.

I want my experience, my knowledge, to be like blocks of granite, not simply piled up as the foundation of my awareness and ego—or perhaps as a monument to them—but spread out before me, a row of stepping stones to more and deeper truths—about myself and about the cosmos.

If there’s a tendency to think of the fall season as an ending, a winding down,
isn’t it also a beginning? Isn’t it the start of a process of storing, building, putting by the provisions for the long cold winter, and collecting fuel for the inexorable engine of spring?

That’s the way I’d like to see the autumn of my life too. Not giving up, not letting go, but building toward something new, something deliciously unexpected. I don’t know what that might be, but I’ll look forward to it nonetheless.

    Do we really get just one of each life season?

I guess that’s where faith comes in. Of course, no one can prove that some level
of consciousness carries on after the human body’s demise…but neither can
they prove that it doesn’t. That’s the beauty of it; we can choose which reality
to embrace.

So, what do you think? Does the human life / seasons of the year metaphor work for you, comparing one’s lifetime with just one astronomical year? Do we really get just one of each life season? Can’t someone like me, in the fall of his life, embrace that season for all its melancholy reality and still look forward to another spring?

Can’t we always believe in the promise of spring, if not in body, at least in spirit; if not within the power of Nature, perhaps within some inscrutable power of our own?

I don’t know about you, but I live for that promise.


Anonymous said...

There are some great books out there now which document life after supposed death. Perhaps the only thing that dies is the ego or the fixed positions we held onto on earth. For the basic introduction into Near death experiences, one could look into reading Raymond Moody or Jeffery Long about documented proof on how people leave the body and describe things they shouldn't have known about if they were dead and unconscious.

Then there is Michael Newtons books about Life between Lives as well as Brian Weiss and his work with hypnotic regression. Dolores Cannon is also conducting pioneering work on people who have lived in other dimensions and other planets before incarnating on earth.

I was blessed with having had a couple of out of body experiences, and so I am a firm believer in consciousness residing outside the body.

Another idea is to collapse all seasons into this one moment. Like being on top of a mountain, and being swept away by its views, there is then nothing on the mind and one doesn't even register the body. One feels as if they have been swallowed up by nature. This then is a natural and healthy connective state of being. One is then not concerned as to what season it is, but at the same time, embraces the splendor of the energy coming as a gift from the seasonal state. Therefore, there is no favourite season, no idea temperatures, no better climate than another,.... only the splendor of immersing one's self in what is given to us to digest in any given moment.

One can then say that beauty is in everything beyond preferences, but is only waiting to be recognized beyond mental and emotional conditioning. In this way, we are swimming in Love, but the human condition has created conditions and stipulations that separates one from being complete and beyond time. So If Time and the components of each season were to be explored and loved individually, one could get to a jumping off point where one just is in love with life because they have then returned home to Love and Oneness.

The body then can be also explored and nurtured. And when the body is finally loved unconditionally, its as if the body then naturally operates at full capacity and where the body seems to vanish in favour of feeling as if one were flowing in the greater body of an entire scene or ecosystem.

There are indeed so many ways to explore and experience life and the human condition.

I do enjoy reading your musings on life Jeffrey and the joy of first hand experience.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Bernie -- Thanks for sharing your obviously well-informed thoughts on this fascinating topic. While I greatly admire your scholarly approach, what touches me most is your personal experiences with that nexus of all seasons, all things.
Thanks for the great ideas and reading suggestions!

BTW, I love your recent photos at your wonderful blog, Northwest Natural Moments. Definitely worth a look by everyone who finds this plug ;-)

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