':Fall Offers A Good Time For Looking Back'
I received this in an e-mail a couple of years ago. It seems appropriate reading for this time of year.
FALL OFFERS A GOOD TIME FOR LOOKING BACK
Beyond my window the leaves drift down as if their fall was merely one of many, as if they could get up and try it again and again, this time quickly on a gust of wind, next time languidly on a soft, sultry breeze.
As they slip silently through the crisp air, sunlight shimmers against their scarlet and tawny gold skin and for a brief moment they become falling torches blazing through the afternoon stillness.
An autumn day is intoxicating in a clean, crisp way. After July's waltz of the fireflies and August's annual free nightly cricket concert, I am ready to sit on the porch with a rough, warm sweater curled around me and watch leaves swirling and birds flocking, as they pick up stakes and head south.
Just beyond my window the wind is teasing a baby bird and ruffling its feathers. Sunlight swirls her skirt over every blade of grass as she plays hide-and-seek with the shadows of the trees.
The cat is napping, too old to chase field mice anymore, but still savvy enough to find a spot of sunlight and curl up in its warmth. The dog, on the other hand, is young enough to chase anything in sight, and can't understand why I don't just let her go. The brisk air tugs at her to come out and play.
And me, I'm in-between. I'm not young enough anymore to roller skate down a city sidewalk or march into a football stadium twirling my baton at halftime; and I'm not old enough to consign myself to a rocking chair with a cup of tea and a thick book whose pages haven't been turned yet.
So fall is still that bittersweet time when I take stock of where I've been and where I'm going. Knowing where I've been helps me to want to stop going back down dead-end roads. And focusing on the road ahead helps convince me there's still time to accomplish a few things in this life that I think are important.
There's a moment in the fall when the world slows to a half- stop. If you listen hard enough you can hear your own heart beat. It whispers something each of us knows: no matter what is going on right now, it isn't forever.
Soon winter's chilly winds will tug the last leaves off the trees that have no choice but to face the elements naked for the next few months. Fall teaches us that we all need to shed our leaves once in awhile. When our souls stand naked in the icy glare of adversity, we head into the next spring with a stronger root system and tougher skin. And new leaves.
But right now the old leaves have not finished telling me their stories. Each chapter of life sings its own unique song. Like a good cup of tea or a breathtaking sunset, it's never the same twice.
As I sit staring at the leaves I wonder how I could have ever taken fall for granted. How did I slide through afternoons of raw silk breezes billowing through golden-glinted leaves as they dance with sunbeams and not take time to try to catch them? Did I look at them as I did everything else, a if they were in endless supply that I could grab whenever I was in the mood?
Life is like that, isn't it? One day we know it will last forever, and one day, somewhere in the fall of life, we wake up and realize that each day is a one-of-a-kind moment that will never happen again. It's then that we look at those leaves, falling in a dazzling array of gold, orange, and dusky red, and realize those leaves are our days -- and there is not an endless supply of them.
I need fall. I need the quiet that the earlier evenings bring. I need the long winter nights to sit and dream by the fire. I need the hot cups of tea and long stories that carry me into my own winter dreams. And I need to remember that spring is the seed that each fall plants with its leaving.
It is in knowing that our days are planting a part of ourselves into the fabric of the future that gives meaning to the moment we are in.
What is a beautiful fall? Is it only the one with vivid leaves in brilliant colors? What happens when the rain washes the leaves down from the trees before they ever have a chance to float on autumn's winds?
What is a beautiful life? Is it only the one with a vivid career and a colorful success story? What happens when the rains of adversity wash out years of our lives before we've had a chance to live out our dreams?
The sun is setting now and the leaves are black against the autumn sky. They look the same as they did in the lowering darkness of the green nights of summer. I know they are dying only because today's light told me that by showing me their fury of color.
I wonder -- when my own leaves fall to the earth, will anyone remember how beautiful my colors were?