For many of us in the world, autumn has arrived in its full beauty and darkness. The leaves turn magnificent colors and then fall, leaving a barren tree and a dark landscape. The days are shorter and colder. Warm sun is harder for some of us to find, and impossible for others.
I’m very connected to the changing seasons, and so I feel some of the beauty and darkness within my own internal landscape. It manifests as a great desire for more sleep… snuggling on the couch with my family… open days on my calendar with no appointments or expectations of myself… canning applesauce… and ample time to meander, change course, or take a nap.
For years, I called my autumn mood depression because I had much less desire for projecting outside my small circle and less patience for busyness. Now I call it …
an internal request for spaciousness, quiet, and reflection – perfectly in sync with nature.
I’m hunkering down for the winter and reveling in the quiet, spaciousness of it.
Wouldn’t I rather be feeling passion and vivaciousness? YES, I would! That’s why I called it depression for so many years. And yet I know there’s inherent value in all the seasons – so what about my own?
Then, a couple of days ago someone asked me this question: “What part of you can’t be expressed when you’re in a cheerful mood?” I had to think and write about this for a while before I could get my head around their question. And my answer was finally this:
When I am in a cheerful mood, perhaps I am filled with a kind of innate satisfaction which makes me less likely to stretch and learn new things. Usually, some level of dissatisfaction is what propels me through fear of change toward a new life adventure. Perhaps if I were always cheerful, I might become complacent…
This is yet another reminder to me that autumn is a time to allow my inner self spaciousness for being. When I allow this spaciousness I am aware of gratitude for it – and a deep sense of relief. It only becomes problematic when I label it depression, or think I should be feeling something else.
Recently I read Parker Palmer’s blog post called: Autumn: A Season of Paradox, and I loved what he had to say. Here’s a short excerpt:
Then I began to understand a simple fact: all the “falling” that’s going on out there is full of promise. Seeds are being planted and leaves are being composted as earth prepares for yet another uprising of green.
Today, at age 76 – as I weather the autumn of my own life – I find nature a trustworthy guide. It’s easy to fixate on everything that goes to ground as time goes by: the disintegration of a relationship, the disappearance of good work well-done, the diminishment of a sense of purpose and meaning. But, as I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the most difficult of times.
On this day, I welcome the autumn darkness outside and within, knowing it serves a valuable purpose for me: it is preparing me to weather winter and be ready for spring, both of which are right around the corner.
I send you peace…
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