The fall leaves are giving us a show in the northern hemisphere right now.
Deciduous trees are shedding their leaves in anticipation of the colder and grayer winter.
Humans, at least in the U.S., tend to revel in the fall season. I don’t think it’s just that corporations have sold us on the fervor of pumpkin spice season. There is something brilliant about seeing this riot of color and hearing the crackle of leaves under our feet right before the empty trees, gray skies, snow and ice show us a different kind of brilliance.
As I walk around the neighborhood this time of year, staring at the gorgeous leaves and feeling the slightly crisper breeze on my skin, I think that the earth is giving us a lesson on how to live through significant change.
Simply reading the word “change” may have given you a jolt of anxiety. Change in our own lives, even a change that happens in some regular pattern, is disconcerting. We may even resist it, falling back into old habits or numbing behaviors. Heck, our passion for pumpkin spice season may be about latching onto numbing foods and drinks just as the challenges of the season take hold.
The reality is that this beautiful color change we see is a seasonal death for leaves. The trees necessarily shed leaves, preparing for the months of rest in the winter. Then the trees have a blank slate on which to grow new buds and leaves when the sun and warmth returns in spring.
In our culture, we tend to avoid the unpleasantness of death and change, even pathologizing it at times. But, what makes life, and any season of it, precious is the fact that it will end. If the leaves or us or anything we might do lasted forever, they would lose their preciousness.
Putting it into practice
This fall I’ve been focusing on helping us to move from burnout to bravery. Let’s take a lesson from the leaves, embracing the seasonal change in glorious technicolor. Here’s a short journaling exercise that might help you with that change:
What changes are in store for you this season?
Which ones are going to be the most challenging and why?
What do you need to shed or release to move forward?
The process can be stunningly beautiful – in you and the leaves.
Embrace the change. Be brave.
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