LESSONS FROM AUTUMN
It's fall and nature is slowly changing her clothes again.
She is becoming autumn and adorning herself with red, orange, brown, yellow, gold and a thousand complex variations in between. Her hues are layered and veined, making it impossible to describe all the colors you see.
While she doesn't possess the number of colors of spring, autumn uses her whole palette with flourish to create her beauty. It takes all the varying trees with their changing shades to crea
te the landscape that takes our breath away. It's the richness in the multitude of the colors that create such beauty. Can you imagine if the trees only turned yellow? It would be lovely I'm sure, but nothing quite like the stark yellow standing tall against the deep red or the burnt orange. Somehow yellow is more yellow when it is contrasted with something that isn't.
Clearly autumn has this down.
But something new is occurring to me as I watch her transformation this year. She's not all that beautiful up close. Now hang on before you disagree; autumn is a magnificently gorgeous season, but I'm realizing most of her beauty is best seen in the big picture. Take a walk through the woods on an autumn day and you can't really take in all the trees aflame in splendor-because you're in the middle of it. You can only see the tree or trees right around you that have dropped a bunch of their leaves. Up close, they look kind of dull and pretty shabby. No, to fully take in autumn's splendor, we need some distance from it. An airplane flight, a drive through the mountains, a photograph taken at autumn's peak, these are the things that take our breath away at the beauty of autumn. The collective of her colors give us words like grandeur, not the individual trees.
She doesn't seem bothered by this. Autumn has a grace and trust about her beauty that seems to me much more settled than spring (were we to personify her characteristics as I'm doing now). I want to adopt autumn's approach in trusting the big picture of her season. I want to be more like autumn this year and say to my often critical self, don't look so close. You're missing the forest for the trees. You're missing what's been done for what's been left undone.
I believe it's possible that the big picture of my life might actually be beautiful when seen on a grander scale, like autumn. I hope so anyway, because when I walk the woods of my everyday life what I see is all the stuff I've dropped, and the ways I look pretty shabby and drab. But if I can pause and stand back a ways, or seek perspective, or let more time pass, will the collective come into view? I don't want to just wander in the trees day after day wondering why I don't see the beauty of autumn in my life.
It's not about the birthday party that didn't get fully planned
It's not about the last load of laundry that didn't get cleaned in time for the game
It's not about making perfect cupcakes that look like the picture in the magazine
These are all trees.
These and more are the close ups that are far from perfect, even drab. But we can trust there is a bigger picture that brings the color of love and joy. The warmth of many evenings spent by the fire, the laughter together over years of birthday parties, the Saturday soccer games over several seasons-these are the pictures that begin to reveal the beauty in our lives. Not the close ups in every single moment, but the view from 30,000 ft. or with enough distance to bring perspective to some of the trees I too hastily called shabby.