Every fall, I am moved by the changing cycle. I feel it, this soft type of grief. There is a palpable shift from the joy and freedom of summer to the dark and quiet corners of the coming winter. Beautifully today, I was able to sense this heart/throat squeezing sensation. This is my body’s way of expressing the discomfort of suppressed grief. There’s a big part of me that would rather just drink a bit more caffeine, grab a bit of dark chocolate and just rev past this uncomfortable feeling all together. (I tried both to no avail.) Thankfully, my writing has the magic ability to pull me toward the tough feels rather than away. Writing gives me courage to wander in the darker spaces. Writing helps me to slow down and sit with what’s there and work it outward from the ethereal emotional body into expression. I know that autumn affects more than just me and writing this for you, helps me be a better friend to us both.
Today I became super aware of the diminishing light and the increasing darkness. The new moon put me to sleep in darkness and I woke in utter darkness. And yet, I find myself participating just as intensely in our modern world. Unending demands and fluorescent lighting help blunt any chance of a natural responses to changing seasons. What if as the light changes I allow myself to slow down? Less light meaning, way less production and way more resting. What if I were to intentionally lower my overhead, lower the demands I put on myself in respect to the changing light? What if I were to sync myself with the coming change? These are the questions that came to me. But, not one of them would help me escape the deeper lessons of the darkness this time around.
Fall is a predictable teacher of decay and death. We are offered a simple practice run at our own release from this body, Every. Single. Year. If we choose to look in. I will admit, I’m not terribly excited about my own mortality. And yet, what I have found is that my resistance to this space takes more energy than just freaking looking at it. Taking the moment to pause, to feel that ache in my heart as I remember that my life in this body is not permanent. I too will will fall, like these leaves. And, yes, I will leave those that I love dearly behind. Uffffa. Tears. Ugh. Yes. This is the heart of my autumn blues.
I have spent years trying to figure out what was wrong with me this time of year. Turning on more lights thinking, “Oh this is seasonal affective disorder.” When in fact, it is just this light brush with mortality that brings actual, palpable grief. What I have learned is this: There is nothing to heal, change or subvert. Grief is simply another teacher that I am learning to welcome. This one needs a bit more space. This teacher needs for me to slow time way down. This teacher requires deep tenderness. And then, together standing authentically and kindly with my grief, I can be present to the beauty of this colorful play of transition before me.
The Smell of Rain on Dust is one of my favorite reads on grief. In this gorgeous book Martin Prechtel writes, “Grief is praise for this life.” The more willing I am to allow myself the tenderness I need for grief, the greater my praise for this life becomes. So if you see me this time of year, my radiant smile may be on pause, and my hand may be resting on my heart, so that I can truly be with this season of my life.