What Autumn can Teach Us about Letting Go
Autumn is here, the clocks have gone back and leaves carpet the pavements with an assortment of colours. Can you really resist kicking your way through a pile of crunchy autumn leaves just like you did when you were a kid or collecting conkers and cones? In his book Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees Roger Deakin remarks how “trees are the barometers of the weather and the changing seasons. We tell the time of year by them.” As a chill creeps into the air and the night arrives earlier, we find ourselves in the midst of nature's shedding season.
Autumn is a kaleidoscope of colours, a feast for the eye. Notice the wide range of colour in view. The green parade of the summer gives way to autumn hues of burnt brown, ruby red and chestnut roasted orange. During the autumn the change in sunlight means the colour of the leaves changes and many trees take a break from photosynthesising. In preparation for the sharp arrival of winter, close on the heels of the autumn season, trees wisely live off the nutrients that have been stored and collected in the summer.
Autumn offers a parallel to the seasonal changes in our own lives. As many trees shed leaves and bark, nature reminds us to look at what we can each individually release and let go.
Lately my office space has resembled a paper dump. As the pile of paper expands across the floor space I know in my head it is time to clear the clutter. I know that by starting the clearing process I will let go of what I no longer need and energetically make room for new projects and generate headspace for old projects requiring completion.
Autumn trees are both vulnerable and resilient; knowing that one rarely exists without the other.
Trees already know what we humans constantly need to remind ourselves of. Spend time observing the trees in your neighbourhood at this time of year. Which evergreen trees in your neighbourhood are still in full bloom? This is nature’s reminder of things in your life worth taking time to appreciate and cherish. Spot which trees have their naked branches on full show, absent of the leaves that normally see them fully clothed. A naked tree has a beauty all of its own. There’s a lesson to be learnt from the naked autumn trees that do not wish for more leaves on their branches. The tree accepts nature as it is and in acceptance of its nakedness keeps its self-esteem intact.
Why not assess your personal life - is there anything you could let go of? It doesn’t just need to be a process of physical letting go. We can let go of mental habits as well as physical things and objects. Challenge yourself, does a new neural pathway need to be laid down in terms of your thinking or attitude? What are the roots of your beliefs and attitudes that require your attention? Is there a life or work situation, a relationship or job that you've outgrown? Trees know that in order to make room for new growth, you have to first let go.
As autumn develops into winter, trees remind us to go deeper into our inner worlds, a rich reservoir of personal wisdom fully available when we are willing to slow down, be still and silent. In this stillness you are more likely to hear the voice of your own true nature. Autumn trees are both vulnerable and resilient; knowing that one rarely exists without the other. Perhaps autumn is nature's new year; a time to clear, to start over, a healthy preparation for what may appear on the horizon.