Finding Meaning in Fall

portland maine fall 2010 deering street bike foliage
The following editorial appeared in the Waynflete Flyer, the Upper School student newspaper.

I find this time of year to be particularly difficult. Fall means my birthday, sweater weather, and the collection of firewood, but it also means dark afternoons, schoolwork, and seeing 250-plus teenagers everyday (which, if you’re an introvert like me, is incredibly daunting.) Fall is a time for growth and evolution, but it is also a reminder that the flush of summer always fades, slivering away so slowly one hardly even notices. But I have decided that this year I will finally embrace a transition that has always been the black cloud looming over me come August. I will find meaning in the season that conjures stress and anxiety from the pit of my stomach, by reconnecting with nature.When I was little, change in seasons used to represent purely a change in surroundings. Winter to spring had nothing to do with the end of school, and everything to do with purple crocuses sprouting in our gardens, a warm sun following me home from the bus stop, and the emersion of monarch butterfly cocoons preparing for their metamorphosis. Fall to winter brought a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, and oranges, twisting into white. Every morning I would stand at my front door, bleary eyed, clothed in dark blue pajamas, and literally say “Hello!” to the world. And then I became a 12-year-old, and slowly stopped greeting nature, my mind too intertwined within itself to drop my worrying for one moment and acknowledge that something greater than my own thoughts was around me. So now I will travel full circle back to being a little girl again. Every morning before school I am going to literally stand at my front door and say “Hello!” to the awakening day before me. I will wander through marshes and woods and fields on Saturdays like I used to, meditating on the fullness of life in nature, and face my fear of rabid, nocturnal animals by taking walks on Sunday nights, just to feel nature through other senses besides sight. I will do my best to view everyday as a gift given to me by nature, and not as yet another 24 hours spent slogging through small talk, school, and other responsibilities.

And what meaning do I hope to absorb from these actions? The realization that nature will always be bigger than what is inside my head, and takes up my time. The ecosystems and beauty and spirituality surrounding me are so complex, and so hidden that my own life and contemplations pale in comparison. That is not to say that I am not important; rather, there are just some things that rise above the web of human existence. I hope to be humbled by this realization, and enlightened in a way that empowers me to reconnect with the roots of my life.