I love the anticipation of autumn. I know it’s not autumn yet, but there is something about looking forward to the peak of autumn that keeps me refreshed and encapsulated in happiness throughout the increasingly cold months. Perhaps I’m thinking about it because I won’t get to experience it this year, or perhaps there’s another reason.
Fall has always been a very romantic time for me. I first fell in love in autumn, I’ve started almost every new phase of my life in autumn, and the colors that the trees reveal in the months seem painfully symbolic of the beauty that lies within great change and hibernation. In fact, these colors get more and more beautiful as autumn continues on. It starts with just a leaf that happens to creep its way into my consciousness, screaming out to the hot August sun from a tree full of green. It’s hot orange or red color makes me cry with mourning for summer, but revel in the constant change that our world undergoes with the fleeting seasons.
Autumn’s trajectory climbs into the months of September and October, like a battle between summer and winter, with some sweltering days, fit for pool parties and shorts, and others, fit for winter coats and fuzzy hats. But the trees–better yet, the leaves–of autumn remain constant in their gradual change. They slowly, but surely, break down their green pigment, with the help of the sun’s friendship, and through this, they reveal more and more beauty, similar to how most things becomes more beautiful just before you are about to lose them.
And so the leaves continue to remind me of their integral role in our ecosystem and my life, becoming brighter and more remarkable with each sunrise and sunset, until the peak of fall reaches me. Leaves crunch on the ground, a mixture of life and death at my feet–shimmering greens, radiant reds, yellows yearning for just one more day of life, and browns murmuring snores as they fall asleep into the ground. Above me, the beauty of the leaves clings to the trees, and I, too, cling to their beauty, wishing it would never go away.
I sat in my car on one of these evenings, in the peak of Fall, my head resting against his, exchanging soft kisses. I felt the beauty of the leaves shine around me through the darkness of night. My heart pounded in my chest, and I murmured the words, “I love you.”
Within moments, and without the reciprocation of this sentiment, I felt the radiance of fall crumble around me, the leaves no longer shine in the moonlight, and the impending final rains of autumn commence, forcing the leaves from the trees, shaking them violently to the ground, and washing away my vulnerability. Autumn fell from its grace, and so did I.
I had known in my heart that what we had all along was beautiful, but fleeting. But as impossible as it is to hold on to the peak of fall’s beauty, it is just as impossible to hold on to anything; it has to be meant to stay, or it has to want to stay. In fact, trying to cling to it, while maybe instantaneously gratifying, only feigns security; it only convinces us that we’re safe. Safety, instead, lies in the certainty of change and impermanence, and that those things truly important to our lives and development will serve their purpose within the time frame they need to do so–even if it means they’ll be there for ever or for hardly an instant. Clinging only makes the fall from grace harder and more drastic. Acceptance allows this experience to become a lateral change, as opposed to a vertical one.
I said, “I love you,” in the peak of Fall, not for him, but for me. I said it without appreciation, and with the intent to hold on and climb vertically. I thought it had staying power, that it moved us upward, when meanwhile, our trajectory was moving along just as the trajectory of Autumn–laterally–and gradually brightening towards its peak until its abrupt fall.