Caught in a Song Loop

I’ve had these song lyrics rolling around in my head the past several days.  The morning air and breeze have a chill, the trees, marshes, and meadows are taking on strong bronze and yellow tints, leaves are slowly starting to relocate from sky to ground.  “Leaves don’t drop, they just let go.  And make a space for seeds to grow.”  (I highly recommend listening to the full song, ‘Leaves Don’t Drop’,  by Carrie Newcomer.  The lyrics sound almost too simple when I extract them from her rich voice and beautiful instrumentation.)

These lines are resonating, I think, not because I’m struggling with fall.  Most people in New England love fall.  Colors, cozy mornings with hot tea, apple picking, pumpkins, harvest celebrations…what’s not to love?  It’s what comes after that is worrying some, especially this year.  It’s helping me to think of fall not as a ‘falling’ (into the deep, dark, long Maine winter coupled with a pandemic and devastating political climate).  It feels like falling, for sure.  But I don’t think it has to.  Instead, I can choose to let go, to exist no longer dangling in the air but firmly on the ground.  It’s a slow descent, with purpose, to another place.  A place of rest, of fertilization, of patience and waiting.  And only if I make that choice am I able to create space for new understandings, realizations, ways of being…seeds.  If I cling desperately to the tree, to summer and fall and what was, eventually a hard wind will take me down.  It might even be after the ground is frozen or covered in snow.  That’s a rough landing and an inhospitable resting place.  Instead, I can choose to let go.  Into a gentle breeze that will carry me to still warm soil surrounded by cricket song and layers of other plant material.  I can settle into this soft landing spot, slowly coming apart and nourishing the earth, preparing it to for new growth many months ahead.

That’s the metaphor, anyway.

The metaphorical part of my brain is settled with that.  The literal part (which sometimes is very loud) wants to know, “Hey!  What does letting go and settling look like?  Are you sure that’s a good idea when it seems like the world is crumbling before our eyes?!?”

Fair question, literal brain.

Let me be a bit more specific.  Here are some examples of what I want to choose to let go of, with as much gratitude and grace as I can muster:

  •  Longing for warm temperatures and endless daylight.
  • Old ideas about how what my life looks like, and newer old ideas about what my pandemic life looks like.
  • The sensation that I must fill every daylight hour with activity, learning, connection, purpose (a common summer sensation for me that feels good for a while but definitely does not serve me well, and I definitely noticed was amplified this particular summer)
  • The routines and rituals I developed that I know were helpful for summer and fall well-being, but will not be a fit in the winter (watering something every morning, garden walks every evening, etc.)
  • A primary external orientation–tending to the human and more than human community outside of me, at times to the detriment of tending to myself
  • Rigidity in ways of knowing and being

Literal brain says, “So…what the heck is going in all that empty space?”

My hope would be:

  • Appreciation for and engagement with infinite shades of gray, brown, and white, with cold, ice, and snow, and the commitment to explore outside regardless of weather
  • Openness and creativity in regards to what supports my mind, body, and heart in this colder season.
  • Openness and creativity in regards to what supports my human and more than human community in this season, and what role I can play in that
  • New routines and rituals, yet to be discovered.  Maybe more regular reading, journaling, finding friends willing to walk during dark evenings, who knows?
  • A primary internal orientation–tending to myself first so that I can better tend to to my communities.  Reflecting the darker and slower pace internally so that I can be more understanding of and compassionate towards the parts in myself that feel darker and more hidden.  And maybe towards the darker parts in others, as well.
  • Flexibility, curiosity, and openness as to what could emerge from this time of settling, reflecting, and restoring.

How about you? What are ways you can practice letting go and making space?

As we hang in this transition space between summer and winter, where can you choose to let go?  How can you hold a nourishing space for what could emerge?  If nothing comes, I suggest taking to the woods and sitting with some trees for a while.  Notice all the different colors and stages leaves are in right now.  Wait for a breeze that supports some leaves in letting go.  See if you can trace a leaf’s descent all the way from tree to ground.  Imagine yourself in that movement…maybe even mimic that movement, to the extent you can in a human body.  Rest on the ground with some leaves that have already let go.  Imagine what they know and what wisdom they may have for you.  As always, before you leave, take a moment to offer your appreciation for the space, trees, and leaves, that kept you company as you explored.