I took the above picture this morning as I went on my morning walk. Only a few weeks ago, the mountains were decorated in orange, red and rust hues. Now, they’re just brown and bare. The lake still has its usual population of waterfowl, including geese, ducks and swans (they always class up any body of water, don’t they?). A few stalwart mums defiantly hung on to their blossoms, even though we’ve had nightly frost for several weeks now.
Autumn is a time of change, of letting go, of getting rid of what no longer works and considering what comes next. It’s when the year begins to shake off what covered it up and reveals what might lie ahead. Soon snow will blanket the earth like a giant marshmallow pillow, putting most of what grows to rest. The world becomes a blank slate, ready to start in the spring anew.
I’m thinking all this because my next birthday will include a new decade. For the first time too, I’m thinking about how many more years do I have ahead. Up until now, there seemed to be so many of them. Eventually, though, our days grow shorter, like nature does with the turn of the seasons.
But I don’t want to go down a dark path as I age, either. What’s the sense in that? Maybe it’s time for a change.
I torture myself once or twice a week in a yoga class. I’m not kidding when I say it hurts. I used to ski a lot. My knees remind me of this when I attempt to squat or do the pigeon pose. Planks just kill me, and the sideways version is completely out of the question. However, there’s just something about it that leaves me feeling good. I find a sense of calm, of peace. It could be with each seemingly impossible position, I find my joints ease up a tiny bit, or my breathing slowed, or a clarity of mind that occurs after each session. Never thought I’d be able to do or even like yoga, quite honestly, but hey, it’s growing on me. You can say I’m changing my mind about it.
I’ve made a few friends in this class, too. One woman I’ll call Susan finds yoga challenging just like me, but she goes for many of the same reasons I do. We have a lot in common. Our lives abruptly changed in our mid-50s. One day she was married, another, a widow. She dealt with so much all at once that she never stopped to face changes life gave her. Now all those emotions are welling up within her, all at once. Yet through the tears, resilience prods her forward. Susan welcomes the new, even if her innards leave her wary. I admire her. She took up kayaking, paddle boarding, throwing parties and going out. She welcomes the new, because if you don’t, you might miss out on something good.
I’m kind of feeling the same way. I, too, have had all sorts of changes thrown at me. It’s what shaped the present me. Still a bit wobbly around the edges, but getting a bit surer about myself each day.
My cupboards were a bit bare, so I headed to Phipp’s for a stockup. The people I once worked with have moved on. Sure, there are a few remaining, but management’s all changed and others finally graduated onto better-paying jobs. Still, their prices are great so I still shop there.
I wandered over to the seasonal department, my old spot in the store. If I could admit to liking anything about what I did, I enjoyed putting Christmas displays together. There was one giant tree surrounded by four to six smaller ones, all having a separate theme. Below the trees were bins of ornaments that hung from the branches. Though everything was a giant mess to assemble (quite literally; the flocked or glittered branches coated every speck of my self and fought hard to stay there), when it was fully assembled, the place looked pretty. Kids laughed at Santa climbing a ladder over and over again. Twinkling lights gave a disco feel. And there’s nothing like hearing glass shatter on the floor, accompanied by a crying kid and a yelling parent.
Talk about change! The place looked like a warehouse. Instead of a cheerful holiday display, stacks of brown cartons lined the floor, their sides bearing pictures of various fake firs. Ornaments crowded inside rows of bins. Candy canes burst forth and raided the chocolate bells’ turf. Tinsel hopelessly knotted with plastic boughs of holly. Santa and his reindeer fled to the North Pole, because they weren’t anywhere to be found. No elves on any shelves, either. Scarcely anything in that department looked inviting.
As I searched for some holiday candy, I couldn’t stop myself from straightening up a few displays. Within moments, the stand-alone tower of treats stood proud. Neat shelves held all kinds of caramel corn, hot chocolate toppers and nut combos. I stood back and admired my handiwork, although the customers must’ve thought I was crazy. I didn’t care. It felt good. The primal force that commands me to tidy up messes in my former place of employ obviously hasn’t left me.
Or, some things never change.