These leaves, so rich with color, are dying. They will eventually turn brown and mulch back into the soil. The curious thing is—none of us fights this. In fact, we celebrate it. We understand it to be a natural process; and the people who can afford it spend considerable amounts of money to come and watch it all unfold.
It occurs to me we could adapt this attitude to our own bodies. I mean, big picture, what’s really happening here? We are dying. Every last one of us. We are in the process of going through our life cycle, and not a one of us will escape that final desiccation, that final cracking free of the branch, and wafting to the ground back and forth on the breath of the wind. But do we accept this as a natural phenomenon? Do we celebrate it? No! We fight it, we deny it. We see it as a problem, and throw billions of dollars at it. We run screaming the other direction (as though we could.)
Take a minute and think about this.
When we happen onto a heart-stopping vermillion tree in the full passion of its autumnal moment, is our first thought, “Don’t worry. I’ve got a product that can reverse the ravages of time. You can be green again.” Hell no. We bring our cameras. We point the beauty out to our friends. We rake up the fallen leaves and make big mountains of them so our children and fall down in them.
At 62, I am sitting with the thought that I’m the human equivalent (for the next couple of decades anyway) of the bright red tree down the street from me. My body is softening, growing thicker in the middle. My hair is graying a little, thinning. Lines are showing up in my face, freckles on my hands. My eyes have somebody living inside them, much more clearly than before. I still feel really beautiful, just in a completely different way than before.
I don't want to be green again. They should cancel their advertising budgets. I want to share with you my papaya, fire, mango leaves, my matchlight, cinnamon leaves, my nutmeg, my butter, my sunbright leaves. Make your reservations in advance. Bring your cameras. Stand in awe with your jaws slack. This is me, this is you, this is all of us in the autumn of our lives.