The Reluctant Autumn

The Reluctant Autumn

I swore off writing about the seasons on my 23rd birthday. I had exhausted the topic in my personal journals and poetry. I stubbornly confided in my best friend that I could no longer glean a unique thought from the melting snow or tiny blooms that wrought so much of my early adulthood. I was trading in these clichés for the real stuff writers write about.

Yet here I am—three days into autumn and I feel I must break this petty fast. A story hangs in my heart. I try to bat it away, but it is pesky and demands to be shared. It began when a friend asked me to go on a pilgrimage together. We were to travel through Colorado to observe the fall leaves on one of the best Saturdays of the season.

When that morning arrived, I woke up early, just like you do on your birthday. As we wound our way through the mountains, I felt a little bit of my old Jack Kerourac spirit perk up. Unlike Jack, I can admit with sureness that I said the word “magical” thirteen times within the first hour of our journey. We began to ooh and aah at the slightest ombré. We marveled and then marveled again and then talked about our marvel until we spotted the next patch of trees we would pull over and goggle at.

And while the magic was in full force, I could not shake a thought that apprehended just about everything else for me that day. I was haunted by a simple and unfair question: Why do we embrace change in nature, yet find ourselves reluctant to accept change in each other?

As we continued to gaze at the aureate foliage, I fell silent. I consider my response to change in people. Do I ooh and aah and celebrate with ease when someone I love shifts gears? Am I steeped in grace when surrounded by difference? Do I applaud the change—marvelous, beautiful, and so very natural—in those I love, just as I do for the aspens?

My wrestling soon turned to frustration as I thought of those who throw their fists to their God, fighting to keep an old season around. I fear for those who are unwilling to recognize the honor in letting go. Here I am, a glorious and transformed being. I am not who I was last year. I am not who I was last week. I have shed so many skins that I am not sure who I am any more. But will I, new and changed, be embraced by others with the same homecoming as fall leaves?

As I write, I think of how I have been taught to hold on to my leaves. I think of how I am chary to change colors, of how I can finally admit that staying can be running.

Who taught me this reluctant autumn?

I ponder the long summer and the bookends marked by change in time and light. Though we may fight it, letting go and embracing the new is perhaps the most natural thing in the world. To keep going, I recall that each season gives way to the next. And that is called growing, the very thing we were created to do.

***

In a rare form of #vulnerability, I posed the question, “Why do we embrace change in nature yet find ourselves reluctant to accept it in others?” to my followers on Instagram. The responses were beautiful.

Maybe because we are familiar with nature and know what to expect?

Change in nature is predictable; each year we have the same for seasons. However, that’s not the case when dealing with people. The ambiguity of their change precipitates anxiety. 

We love to admire it in nature because it takes no effort from us to do so…

We can see the change happening in nature, but change in humans is often internal…Us humans tend to believe what we see. We usually know when personal change is happening, but because we can’t see it, we demonize it.  

I wonder what it would look like if we anticipated change and the growth in people the same way we do with the excitement of the seasons.


Windrose Magazine
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Windrose is a collection of stories—stories that echo this one simple truth: you are not alone as you navigate life in your twenties.

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