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Nothing New - Leaning into Fall: Learning to Let Go

Whenever someone asks what my favorite season is, I struggle to come up with an answer. I’ve always been drawn to Nature, to the wisdom and lessons she imparts. I love living in a part of the world where I get to experience both the extreme and subtle aspects of all four seasons. The seasons demonstrate the impermanence of everything. All living things have a limited time, just as the seasons will change no matter what. Ever since I read “The Book of Nature: The Astonishing Beauty of God’s 1st Sacred Text” by Barbara Mahaney I find it even more difficult to pick a particular favorite season. However, if pressed, I’d have to say autumn and spring. Okay…I know that’s two seasons. The key is they are both transitional seasons; they both link the warmest season to the coldest season through their gradual shifts in temperature and therefore behaviors of all living things, along with preferred precipitation.

We all know that transitions can be challenging. Starting a new job, losing a job, adjusting to a growing family, orienting yourself to a new city, celebrating marriage, navigating divorce, dealing with diagnoses and illness, adjusting to retirement, and dealing with death are common transitions that often leave us dealing with the both/and paradoxes of life. And these transitions can zap us humans emotionally and physically. Different people deal with transitions in ways as unique as they are.

Some people are energized and motivated by times of transition. They feel emboldened as they look towards a new beginning. Others feel anxious and even depressed as they look back to what will be lost and then forward to the unknown. It is for all these reasons that I believe I like autumn and spring the best: because each represents the range of emotions that anyone could possibly feel, and each shows us through their example how we can embrace our transitions and live well through them.

Since we’re in the midst of autumn let’s focus on the transition season from summer to winter. In the northern hemisphere we move from long, warm days to shorter, crisp ones. One of the most noticeable changes we observe in fall is watching trees lose their leaves. This natural behavior provides so many lessons. The tree doesn’t need its leaves in the winter. By losing their leaves, trees expend less energy through the cold months. Shedding leaves also allows the trunk to conserve moisture so it doesn’t dry out in the harsh winter. And the bare branches allow the wind to flow through more easily, so there is less strain on the tree during winter storms. What does this mean for us? How can we learn from fall and let go of what no longer serves us so that we have the energy needed to get through whatever season of life we are in and the flexibility to ebb and flow with it?

You can start with a small letting-go step that can jump-start your confidence to tackle other areas in your life that you need to sort through: put away your summer wardrobe and break out your scarves and sweaters. That’s easy! But how do you really know when it’s time to let go of something?

If a person, role, situation, behavior, pattern, grudge, etc.:

*makes you upset

*is destructive

*or is not productive

it may be time to transition to a healthier, more positive way.

Just as a tree thrives without its leaves, so can we flourish through our letting go. We much trust that we can relax into the letting go, knowing that there will be more…a winter, spring, and summer; a night followed by a new day. There will be a range of emotions around the releasing: sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, pride, love, joy, peace. Allow them to come and go, resisting the urge to fight the uncomfortable; rather allowing it to transform you. And remember, in spring new leaves grow.

Imagine what could come of letting go for you!

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