My original title for today’s words was going to be “let the leaves fall as they may” (e.g. let things happen as they happen) but I settled on:
ThoughtFALLness, I’ve decided, is a first cousin of mindfulness — a topic about which much has been written and spoken. I only realized recently that one window into mindfulness is right outside my own window and right now – no books or TED talks needed.
In short, observing the natural, random descent of the season’s leaves can help in settling our thoughts (and lives) over the course of a day…or a year.
To set context, a few weeks ago, I was sitting in my backyard, aware of the very first grounded foliage. Fast forward to this past weekend, a few weeks after this first, tangible Autumn experience. Leaves now have landed en masse; they cover my yard with many more aching to follow from above. The seasonal shifts over the last few weeks are logistically important because in a few day’s time, the annual notices on the utility poles will appear, conveying to my neighboring yard owners that the County’s curbside leaf collection (and trucks) are just around the corner.
During any given year, the conditions outside obviously and ultimately dictate leaf speed, trajectory, landing, and piling. My neighbors and I may try to be uber strategic in determining the optimal raking period. Intellectually, we know that planning doesn’t do us much good. All it takes is a gust of wind, a downpour or a stretch of dry, calm, warm days to alter the “falling” pattern and our worries about yard work. Even if I could figure out a way to perch myself on a tree’s limb and shake the branches in a planful way, each leaf would settle where it wants, when it wants. A few stubborn ones might decide to never let go. The poignant lesson – if I think too much about gathering the leaves, I lose out on the wonder of each leaf and, possibly, the act of wondering itself.
So returning to the topic at hand — the mind and our thoughts…beyond yard work. Despite my own mindfulness practices that have become more practiced over the past year, my internal chatter — regularly distracting, occasionally paralyzing – about work, kids, relationships, money, errands. – rarely fully abates. Thoughts cling to me and, as such, stand in my way!
Until…this season’s first “landing leaf” day when I had an “ah ha.”
It’s all a metaphor I know but our thoughts can be our yard’s Autumn leaves. Imagining, envisioning each voice — about work, kids, relationships, money, errands — as a maple, birch, or oak in October allows something magical to happen to us and the ground on which we stand and think. Thoughts can indeed stop clinging, begin floating, and finally settle assuredly and independently at our feet.
I suppose today’s musings are about our choices at any given moment on any given Fall (or other) day. We can release the hold on our thoughts. We then can let them fall gently, without judgment…and optimally away. We can pick them up when we want.
Outside my window, I’ve learned something new. Autumn is indeed a grand time of the year for all of us but the grandest for the person whose thoughts at a given moment, like the season’s leaves, are free.