Autumn Routines

autumn

The first day of school was always a day met, for me, with both eager anticipation and deep despair. While it was a joy to get dressed up, as we did in those days, head out early on brisk mornings, and get back into a routine it also marked the end of carefree summer days.

Autumn has been a bit late this year. More than two days this past week have been in the 70s, an anomaly given the typical continental weather in the Pennsylvania community where I live. As we have sadly realized, global warming is throwing off the delicate balance of nature in so many ways. Although I admit I have enjoyed not wearing a jacket for just a few days longer, I am terrified for our planet, for her sustainability and viability in years that will stretch out beyond my own.

Despite the warm weather, I have been reminiscing about those early fall days of my youth, and remembering how this season compels me to ritually adopt certain routines that for some reason seem most welcome at this time of year. Like the giant trees that gently allow their leaves to return to the earth, I am letting go of things that have an expired meaningful purpose in my life. Things that are unnecessary, a nuisance. Internally, I am letting go of thoughts and feelings that weigh me down, allowing them to fall away from my life. After an almost too comfortable summer, I am re-establishing habits to improve my health and well-being. Life feels crisp, fresh, and breezy.

Autumn is now about halfway gone, and soon winter will arrive. Cold, snuggly days sipping warmth and longing for sunshine. I’m clearing my space to prepare for the pristine emptiness of our next earthly phase.

Blasting Zones

blast

I had never been in a blasting zone before, nor had I even heard of them. But on a recent road trip through six states, I traveled through five blasting zones that were strikingly marked with orange warning signs.

The blasting zones are created to clear grass, trees, hills, and other earthly formations to make room for highway expansions. It is the process of permanently removing lush, lovely goodness to promote, in theory, movement, speed, and economic progress.

Similarly, we often blast away parts of ourselves to move forward in our lives. We suppress our feelings, we settle for less than we deserve, we overlook our values, and we try to transform our personalities. These little blasts, while not permanent like those by the roadside, cause long-lasting damage. While it might seem like we are removing roadblocks, we are actually creating superficial limits on who we are and our potential for fulfillment in all of its forms.

Intentionally letting go of feelings, activities, habits, rituals, thoughts, and things that no longer serve us or reflect our true nature can be a healthy practice. In order to grow, we need to make room. But when we remove, diminish, or hide our inner and outer beauty, we are instead creating a gap that will continue to suck out all of the love in our lives. Rather than discovering fulfillment, we will find ourselves empty and unsettled. Changed, but not for the better.

It is not always easy or simple to discern what should or should not remain a part of our lives. Whether or not we choose to remove the right things, the gentle process of letting go is far more forgiving and loving than that of blasting away with anger, frustration, or desperation. When we let go of things, they may float back to us — and we can then decide whether or not to welcome them back into our lives or to continue releasing our grip. When we blast away, the process of reintegration, should we choose this route, is far more difficult.