Note: This is the twelfth essay in the series of “Why We Love Autumn.” I recently asked some friends who love autumn as much as I do to reflect on what made them so excited for autumn to arrive. Lisa and I have been friends since highschool. Our friendship is one that can make me laugh until I cry over peeled labels, tea or anything inappropriate. She now lives near Boston and beckons me northward on a regular basis.
“Ughhhhhh!!” I let out a deep moan as my chest slams on the ground, my knee plunging into a fallen tree trunk. I lie there as my mind catches up to my body. Like the lighting of a Christmas tree, my whole body is suddenly ablaze with burning pain. Running in the woods is rarely treacherous, but the slightest slip has often left serious scars.
At this point I’d usually start whimpering to myself about all of the pain, the endless pain, the emotional toll, etc. But since I am lying on the ground, unable to move much, I look around me.
The sense of pain succumbs to sight: the woods around me are truly beautiful. Tall pines sway and creak like grumbling old men, as winds push leaves from the trees, staining the rocky trail. From my spot on the ground, the sky is framed by a patchwork of color, sunlight bending in new ways as it hits the trees. Beside me is a large, still pond draped with water lilies, just like the Monet.
I breathe in sharply through my front teeth.
Pain interrupts the reverie and my mind wanders back to the same questions that have dominated my thoughts for months: When will I find a job? How can I move out of my parents’ house? Will I ever make friends here? Things are not good. I have felt glum, lonely and discouraged for a long time.
I stand up and start walking slowly. From my spot in the basement, I could think about everything and do nothing. Stuck in a motionless inertia. I realize that my ‘little fall’ forced me to stop and look around, taking it all in from a new perspective on the ground.
That day was the first break in my gloom. The fall knocked me out of the fog of self-absorption, and I started to do things again. Instead of resenting all of my free time, I was grateful. After that, I spent time outside every day, until all of the beautiful colors were gone and the rustling trees were muted by a thick layer of snow. And I felt better.
Fall is a season that prompts mindfulness. It is an invitation to experience the world around you through your senses. It is the perfect time to run in the woods. To feel the steam hit your lips from a cup of hot tea, and warmth travel down your body. To pick your own apples from a tree instead of a grocery store. To open your windows to feel a cool breeze as you read the paper, or make breakfast, or go to sleep. And, I have found, these are the things that make me happy.