Falling Away

It’s beautiful here in these crisp October days in a way that no one who hasn’t lived with deep seasonality can understand.

The leaves drop their green frosting to reveal their natural colours as the sun drops in the sky to illuminate them with magical, dappled, oblique light.   Shadows lengthen, rewarding you with flashes of brilliance, spotlighted trees like perfect paintings, shapes bursting with reds and yellows, heartbreaking beauty around every turn.

In these days I have even left my basement to be in outside, my joy mixed with the pain from my ankles and a quickly dropping gasoline gauge.  I sit on benches and watch the people, clambering to take in these last days, soaking up the final external delights of the year before the world is turned white and better seen from though a window near a warm fire.

Autumn is the burst of glory, all fecund squash and heady aromas, before the freeze of winter comes.   It is so beautiful, so poignant, so intense a reminder of the cycles of life that it finally can bring my tears.   I am in harmony with the world, as I have been for all my life, the cusp of maturation, the edge of dying.

Rebirth is not possible without death and rebirth has always been the energy I placed my hope on, an incarnation beyond the obligations & indignities of scarcity.

My inner life has always been full of rebirth in the way any spiritual life must include the quest for emergence, for moving beyond the fleshly and closer to the infinite.  Instead of clinging to life we cling to the fact of new life, beyond and blessed, terrifying and transcendent, crystalline and consuming.

Leaves turn, the green of youth falling away, showing the beauty underneath just for a few last, languid days.

The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.
— Arthur Schopenauer

Outside I take a moment, the scent of a far away fire which burns up the debris caught on the breeze, to look back.   Looking back is my habit, collating lessons and collecting memories which offer wisdom & insight.   Ahead of me was always terrifying so my chest full of mirror shards has always been my personal talisman, captured moments of what lies beneath the scars of the present.

Winter comes, evoking sadness.  In winter, all we have to keep us warm is the glow of other people, nests & networks which sustain us through the dark and frigid times.   That glow is dim for me, weak and thin, as it has always been.

The fall is so beautiful, not as something to peep at but rather as something to live through.   We change as the earth seems to meet our frail mortality, showing herself to be as vulnerable as we tiny humans are.   Her energy will come back as it has for millennia, but not quite as we know it, for our eyes will have been tempered by another fall.

If you can’t love the revelation of fall then you can’t embrace all of life.  The stripping away comes to each of us, demanding we survive another winter and requiring us to be reborn again, creating the new out of our own older mortality. We are asked to trade vigour for wisdom, sensation for sensibility, trade open promise for being more present, more stripped away.

Fall demands that we claim what we treasure, what we will put up and preserve to hold with us through the darkness of winter.  What will help us get through the frozen days of infertility, the long nights which try our soul?

Delighting in the fall is delighting in gratitude even for the evanescent and ephemeral, the moments of delight the year has given us.   With time and context we can understand the blessings of the gifts which seemed two sided when we first opened them.   With the insight of another year passed we can offer thanksgiving for what we took for granted, for all the effort and love that was given to us.

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is an ungrateful child, as Shakespeare wrote in King Lear, but no one can stay a child through autumn after autumn.   The sword of time will pierce our skin, it doesn’t hurt when it begins, but as it works its way on in, the pain gets stronger, watch it grin.  Autumn comes to each of us.

Staying ungrateful autumn after autumn can only reveal a hole in our heart, a break in our compassion.  The fall always winnows the grain from the chaff, the valuable from the insignificant, reminding us of the sweetness of what we took for granted at the time.  Why else would so many take the autumn to use Facebook to look up old lovers, those who offered warmth in the past?

Rationality pales in the face of fall.   You can’t argue nature out of her cycles, just as you cannot use facts to try and paper over what a woman feels inside.   Presence is all that counts, laced with smarts maybe, but full of respect for mother nature’s eternal patterns.

When nights get longer and the air fills with the spices of pumpkin pie, we know winter is coming for us once more.    The reflective time increases, shaping the hard choices we know are coming in the season of darkness.  Where will we use what we have left and what will we leave behind, only holding as memories, stories sweet, testing and profound?

The fall is so beautiful as the living concentrate their sweetness and energy, no longer profligate and exuberant, instead focused on bearing fruit, setting seed and preparing for a long, cold sleep.

The fall is in my nature, yes, but it is in the nature of every human who lives on the earth.   The fall comes and then maybe the rebirth, the awakening, after a inside gestation where we draw what we value and what we love close to us.

Winter isn’t far away now, my body tells me, so I must savour each day.  This is always the deepest lesson of death, this need to cherish each moment, adding one more good day to our inventory of memories.   The callous will drop away, losing some but leaving us open and tender again, ready for another chance at life.

The world is falling away out there and it is beautiful.

That is, I guess, why I so need to cry.

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