Fall is in the air. According to the Five Element theory from China, the season of autumn is an invitation to reflect and let go. Nature models this by dropping the mature leaves so the new buds can grow. Most of us love the fall colors. We take trips to visit the maples and elms and we are mesmerized by their vibrancy. We are actually looking at the end of a life cycle. There is no sense of mourning or holding on. The leaves come into their full expression and drop off gracefully.
Many eastern cultures look at maturing differently than we do. If you make it to a certain age you have achieved success. You now have time to turn inward and reconnect to your essence. Are you feeding your spirit? Are you laughing?
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity said: “Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived.”
Being fully alive requires living in the present. To really show up and enjoy this wonderful gift that God has given us. Life is what we make it and it’s a choice. I can choose to focus on what is good in my life or use all my energy worrying about what is not working. Whether I am struggling with health challenges, family disruptions, financial insecurity…the list can go on and on- I can find something good to hold onto. Abraham Lincoln said: “when you get to the end of your rope, hang on, since you never know what is coming”.
Life is change. The more we accept that the happier we get to be. Autumn is a time to let go of anything that isn’t working. Maybe I need to clean out my closets and drawers. Or let go of my negative attitude or behaviors, my judgments and criticisms of others. Or maybe I have to forgive. Finally let go of that hurt I am carrying or that grudge against someone. Holding onto these hurts is hurting me, not the other person. Is it possible to forgive? Or maybe the better questions is: can I afford NOT to forgive?
When you forgive someone you are free of the pain, anger or sadness contained in that experience. When you make peace with it inside yourself you are taking your energy back. When you refuse to let go of the upset the other person is holding your energy and you have given them power over you. Forgiveness does not imply that the actions taken against you were ok. It simply means that you are done with it. You are choosing to close the door on that experience, learn what you can from it, focus on yourself and move on.
I saw this on a forgiveness website: “Very few people make it their life’s mission to hurt other people, especially those who they care about. Most are either thinking of themselves, or not thinking at all, but not thinking of deliberately hurting another. When they do hurt someone deliberately, they’ve likely justified it in their mind as revenge or a defensive action. Two babies playing in a sandbox, one baby takes the other’s shovel. The other slaps the thief baby, the thief baby hits the other with the shovel. Both start to cry. Fast forward 30, 40, 50 years and old babies all over the world continue this set of circumstances which ends up in a whole lot of sad old babies walking about.”
Babies truly don’t know better but adults do. We can choose our attitude. We can choose how we respond. In this beautiful season we are reminded to just let go of everything we no longer need. Be like the leaves. Be mature enough to recognize when it is time to drop the old with grace and dignity so a new thought, feeling or belief can blossom.