Take What is Offered
“October is nature’s funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming—October than May. Every green thing loves to die in bright colors.”
― Henry Ward Beecher
There are warm days still but as the season waxes on they are growing fewer and farther between. It’d be easy to spend the season sulking, but that only leaves so much less for me to enjoy. No, it’s better to seize what warmth and sunshine that is left. Soak it up and save what you can through the dark months to come. October is teaching me gratitude.
It’s hard, but this year I really am trying to see October in a new light. Autumn has never been among my favorite seasons. Just as the worry of a thing is always worse than the thing itself, the cool breezes and color-changing trees are worse than the winter they warn of.
Instead, I’d like to think of Autumn as just another kind of Spring. Not a season of death, as it always feels to me, but another season of change. It’s best to accept the shortening days and the cooling nights. It’s better to marvel at the leaves and find warmth and safety inside rather than out. There can be good this fall but you have to take what is offered and not lament what is lost.
And the truth is, a lot was offered. Some big changes happened this month and nearly all of it was good, nearly all of it was earned. This Autumn certainly is a time of reaping the rewards of sacrifices and hard choices that were made month over month this past year. I’m grateful beyond measure for what is given.
With that being said I’m taking the time to prepare not for the death of a thing, but for reflection and strengthening. Like trees pulling chlorophyll from the leaves, I am consolidating my resources. I am growing hard and readying for the worst of the winter. I’m making improvements. I’m making repairs. I’m preparing for a long season with myself. This fall I am letting myself change.
But before I do, here is what I am currently:
Writing in my own space again. Our spare bedroom is slowly being turned back into my old office space again. It’s a slow process, but it has meant making it easy to get away from distraction and make some real progress on my writing goals. I’m looking forward to a new month of prolific output.
Making poems and pictures again. I haven’t posted much yet but I am finding new ways to be creative with Instagram again. Going through my old photos on my phone and giving them a monochromatic make-over has been deeply satisfying and with my desk space returned I’ve gotten my old tools out and readied to make more poems and collages again.
Planning a new newsletter adventure. I’ve got a template and the start of three drafts already going. It’s been a long time since I’ve sent one of my old letters but I’ve missed the more intimate space of inbox to inbox writing. It’s so much more freeing but also so much more terrifying than a blog or Twitter feed. Check it out, subscribe, and let me know what you think?
Reading All About Love by bell hooks. I had a good run of reading motivation back in August but since finishing The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, I’ve lost the drive again. Reading about trauma was draining and though I learned a lot about myself through it, it’s been hard to want to go back to such deep introspection.
Watching Y the Last Man, though news of its cancellation has left me somewhat subconsciously uninterested in finishing the season. Like many of you, I also binge-watched Squid Game on Netflix and found it both horrifying and exhilarating. My favorite film this month was Dune from Director Denis Villeneuve. I suspect the novel will be my next fiction read.
Learning about Human Behavioral Biology from Standford Professor Robert Sapolsky, still. I blew through the first videos quite quickly but I had read a couple of his books before watching. Unfortunately, I have been stuck on video 12 on Endocrinology. I think my issue is that Sapolsky does not teach this lecture himself and he’s the entire reason I’m interested at all.
Anticipating a year of big changes ahead of me. There has been reaping this harvest season sure, but the sowing is far from done. My wife and I are finally feeling like we are coming into the lives we’ve been meant to lead all along and though it’s taken us some time to arrive, on coming into ourselves we feel the timing feels right after all.
Reflecting on what it means to make meaning and whether this very human impulse serves us well at all. I’m sure it has its uses, but moving away from the pressure to have so much purpose all the time sounds freeing. I am reflecting on where the meaning I have made for my life or the purpose I hope to serve comes from. Are these my impulses, or impulses that my culture has imposed on me?
Fearing the uncomfortable feeling that comes with growth. I’m feeling well beyond ready, and I can even say I am excited too, but there are fears that are hard lost and I will have to fight through some of my worst and long-standing. I’m confident I can do it, but the little voice in the back of my mind that has only ever wanted to protect me has her doubts.
Hating how little the Democrats have been able to accomplish in the year since Biden’s election. I knew then Republicans would obstruct his every endeavor and I make no excuses for them, but I had no idea how much our own party would blockade the way. These are reasonable benefits we all should be fighting for like paid parental leave, free community college, or expanded healthcare coverage. What should our taxes be paying if not this?
Loving the resilience I have seen from the people who mean the most to me. It can be easy to judge another person’s position in life or to resent the hardships your family put you through but when you learn to look past your pain, you can see how hard it was for everyone. You can see how each person did the best they could given their pain too. It makes it easier to see the strength you come from. It makes it easier to love.
Needing help. I have healed quite a few of my old wounds just fine on my own over the years. That isn’t to imply it was easy, only that it was done. Recently I’ve accepted there was more damage done than I was perhaps was willing to admit and there is still a long way to go. These next steps are more than I can do on my own and though I’ve known that for a long time now, I admit the time has come to make the call.
Hoping to see a change soon in the fight against Covid-19. There are still people dying every day and there is still so much more we can all do. I’m hoping those who are hesitant on getting the vaccine are able to find the clarity they need and those who refuse to wear masks consider those who are vulnerable around them. I hope this winter will not bring the same level of loss we had over the last.
All in all, this October was a month of extremes. My family has seen some terrifying times these past weeks but found time for laughter and memory-making too. I worked more hours than I have in a long time, but found a whole week in which to rest and take time for me and my loved ones. I’ve been up. I’ve been down. I’ve been all over the place! I’ve been scared, but I’ve been oh so grateful too.
But what about you? What ups and downs have you been through this October? What did you choose for your Halloween costume? What new memories have you made? What old fears will you face? Are you ready for the stress of the holiday season?
Let me know in the comments.