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A New Season – A Fall Meditation

For part of the year, I live in the country on a few acres in an old farmhouse just north of Charlottesville, VA. This is my happy place, the place I come to breathe, look at the mountains, and get centered.

For me, Fall is what I call a push-pull season. It is an interlude of contrasts and competing wishes, the ultimate mark of transition. On the one hand, I feel the pull of my old clock – the school calendar - and find that after Labor Day I have this drive and need to get focused, get back to work, and produce. At the same time, there is more darkness as the days have begun to shorten and the light has changed to a soft golden hue as if someone has hit a dimmer switch. In nature, Fall is a winding down time and for the past few weeks, I have been watching squirrels frantically burying acorns in my yard, deer, no longer the fawns of summer, mosey through the bushes looking for a mate, and my backyard groundhog is no longer making his daily sunset appearances. Now, winter is coming, and I know these technicolor oranges, reds, and yellows that pepper and consume the green trees are nature’s last fleeting show before things become quiet and go underground.

Transition is always difficult. I feel scatty and easily distracted in this push-pull time – the leaves flit and fly in the air as much as my thoughts and emotions. I alternate between intense activity and a desire for deep slumber. I find that my balance is off-kilter and my energy levels reflect this – I have tons, I have none. I fight this feeling of imbalance and unease, but it is a futile fight. I force myself to sit still with these contrasts and to let them live in their charged and unresolved way, but then I hop up to vacuum. There is still so much to do and see before the land freezes. On the one end of October, you have the last warm days of summer and by the end of the month, you can feel the holiday season beckoning. Just like that, in comes change quick and disorienting.

So today, in this last gasp of color for the year, I ask myself – who am I in this unease? What can I get done in this season of intense contrasts? With all the distraction of color and activity, I must remember to slow down and notice the small, enduring things and the new opportunities that reveal themselves in any sort of shift. As the leaves drop away, new views and thus different perspectives appear. And this is not a bad thing, only a different thing. In this push-pull time, an uncomfortable space, I can hold all these thoughts – that of action and that of rest –in the type of disharmonious harmony that only comes to visit this time of year. When I take a moment to surrender to it, what emerges? Who emerges?

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