When I sat down to write this my intention was to write an article encompassing the lifestyle practices we can adopt in order to best prepare body and mind for the seasonal shift into autumn... But when pen met paper something entirely different came out. So if you will indulge me, here is my little rambling meditation brought about by the whispering trees and the Virgo new moon. I will be writing my intended ayurvedic guide to autumn soon, apparently this just needed to come out first.
This time two years ago I was in the Adirondacks. Road tripping my way home to Michigan from ayurveda school in Massachussetts. I rememeber waking up early and looking out of my window at a blank wall of mist. So I headed to the nearest mountain trail and warily started my ascent through the trees to see if I could break out of the cloud at the top. I specifically remember the walk being unnerving because everything was so quiet. I found I was holding my breath for fear of shattering the stillness. But this changed when I reached the sumit. Broken through the mist I was enveloped by a world of colour, the chatter of birds, the rustle of leaves, a faint smell of damp and bonfire smoke from somewhere down in the valley. I felt this fullness and peace that I had never felt before. Perhaps it was the quietness that gave me space to process all the changes that I had been through. Whatever it was, I felt simultaneously identity-less and the most wholly myself in this land of rocks and trees.
This was also around the time that marked my first 2 years of sobriety and all of the lifestyle changes that went along with that. Freedom from toxic relationships to people and things that had haunted me for years. The development (in its infancy) of a spiritual practice that effected me really deeply.
When we witness the arrival of autumn, the sunset of our year, it is not with a sense of mourning for the day that has passed, but with a celebration for what has been achieved. And with a stillness we sit at a juncture. The setting of the sun is not just the laying to rest but is also the harvest of the fruits of our labour and a signal of a new dawn.
For me, autumn will always be this period of evaluation and contemplation. Of gratitude and acceptance for what is, what has been, and what is to come. A reminder that I am a very small, but intrinsic, part of something so much larger and far too great for my meagre human mind to comprehend. To rememeber, with great humility, that despite my total lack of qualification, I have been given the opportunity to serve, and to accept, with each breath, the responsibility of contributing something to our world. I let go of ideas of contributing something materially applaudable, and instead made a commitment to something far greater and far more difficult. My contribution is a love and a reverence. A peace and acceptance. I’m not very good at it yet. I am, and will forever continue to be a student in the ways of pure loving devotion. But my contribution to the world will be my sincere attempts - over and over again if need be - to pick myself up, and live a life of Truth.
Someone wise once said, we are often so busy staring at the top of the mountain that we don’t turn to see how far we have already climbed. If you listen closely enough, you will be able to hear the arrival of autumn. Be able to smell it in the earth, feel it on the skin, and witness it in the language of the trees and birds. Humans are not immune to the natural rhythms and changes in environment. Just like all the other species on the planet, we are guided by the shifts in the seasons, if we choose to listen. I make a conscious effort to listen. Sometimes I forget. But I try really hard to remember. And when I do, I take this opportunity to take my gaze away from the top of the mountain, to stop my fixation upon the path, and to turn around to appreciate how far I have already climbed. And to appreciate all of the scenery. All of it. The good, the bad, the indifferent. And I remind myself that I can change course at anytime. Because there are unlimited pathes to choose from, and no one path is better than the other, because ultimately they will all take you to the same place, some are just a little steeper and windier than others.
What is my point? Perhaps my point is this: If you are not satisfied with what you have, you will never find satisfaction in what you gain. So, to steal a line from the great Romeo to the irrate Tybalt, BE SATISFIED. Easier said than done, I agree. But for me, this is what autumn is all about. Not sitting passively and waiting for winter to close up shop, but to dedicate time to finding the joy and satisfaction in what we have all around us. To be thankful for the world that we live in and the people around us, despite the many flaws we have a propensity to point out and emphasise. Be satisfied with what we have, or else we will never find the joy in it.
Our contentedness with life is dependent upon our the way in which we choose to view, or witness. Henry David Thoreau wrote:
"Objects are concealed from our view, not so much because they are out of the course of our visual ray as because we do not bring our minds and eyes to bear on them; for there is no power to see in the eye itself, any more than in any other jelly. We do not realize how far and widely, or how near and narrowly, we are to look. The greater part of the phenomena of Nature are for this reason concealed from us all our lives."
To me, this quote speaks of the difficulty in finding satisfaction or happiness within the lives that we lead. If we have an attitude of constantly striving for something more, keeping our eye on the summit of the mountain, we will fail to see just how blessed we are.
This year, as I welcome autumn back, I make an intention to sit still. Not to strive for the future or mourn for the past. I intend to glorify my current situation. To take my lessons from the trees, and trust in the beauty of what is yet to come.