Autumn is my favorite season, and I am in the autumn of my life. Frequently, I am seriously ignorant of this fact, though, especially when I wonder how a big party night can have such a lasting effect the next morning or when two days of Weight Watchers doesn’t result in me dropping a size.
But there is no denying that it’s autumn for me, and I’m starting to do those things that I never thought I’d do as a sit back and view the past through the golden tones that only memory can create. A woman in the locker room at my health club juggles a diaper bag, tiny wet swimsuits and her own gear while keeping one hand on her almost-ready-to-stand child. I say, “Oh, what a sweet little man! Enjoy. It goes by so quickly.” I know that this is this little boy’s only October as a toddler. Next year he’ll be running all over, and in a handful of Octobers, he won’t be able to come into the ladies locker room anymore. She’s probably thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, lady, dressed up in yoga gear with no spit-up stains. Looks like you had time for a haircut recently too.” Fortunately, she smiles and thanks me for the compliment. I get to leave the locker room thinking about how I have given the true gift of perspective to this frazzled mother. She wonders how long she’ll have to wait until she can do one thing with two hands instead of seven with one.
And that is what autumn has always been for me… the chance to turn around and collect in my mental arms all the beautiful things the world has given since the first seedling reared its leaf-tops through the soil many months ago. All the failures, regrets and pure pain fall way, and I am left with lessons learned, rewards relished and the swell of duende that allows me to render my pain and happiness together as the definition of living. Without both sides of that coin, we cannot say that we are truly alive.
Some people liken autumn to death. The plants die back, the leaves fall from the trees, the grass goes dormant. I think of it as the opportunity to savor all that has passed, and recast it in the perspective of someone who now has a little bit more experience.
The obstacles of age bother me. It is inconvenient that my energy isn’t the same, and my body doesn’t respond to change so quickly. The annoyances of the season frustrate me at times too. But, I am enjoying this autumn of life as much as the one that comes once a year.