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 were?”)
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.
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
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
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.