It’s autumn, and has been for who’s-to-say how many weeks. Fall first struck me this year at sixty miles per hour. I was driving the long waves of tree-lined interstate one day and started to notice the subtle shifting hues that became more pronounced with actual color the further north I drove.
The second time I noticed the progress of this season was a day after a windy night. I was walking a path and I looked down. The prior day it had been a dirt path, now it was covered with blown down leaves. I looked at the trees’ limbs above me and saw bare patches in the canopy where the day before there had been color.
This morning was my third notice that it is fall. This time I stood still in a forest. The sky was clear. There was no breeze. The forest itself felt still except for the site of foliage floating like dull flakes of glitter in a just jostled snow globe. The forest was quiet except for the sound of leaves breaking at the node and rustling from twig to twig to a soft patter on the floor.
Unlike the morning after the wind, when the leaves had been pushed to comply with the fall, this morning it seemed like the forest had found consensus: It was simply time to surrender to the gravity of the moment.
The autumnal happenings around me have depended very little on the particular moments of my noticing. But my noticing has served as a window of insight for me, drawing my gaze to the wisdom of the season. The wisdom of change.
Some of us tend to measure history in significant moments and fasten those moments to particular dates; which isn’t bad, just incomplete. It’s an easy mistake to make: reducing what has happened to sharp staccato images of events with hard and defined edges. It’s a western tendency, I think, more than anything else. A view of progression in time that is out of touch with the seasonal, the cyclical, the orbital, the curved, the queered, the mythic, the poetic understanding of time and progress.
Significant events do, of course, occur. They take place in time and shift our experience and we ought to notice them, and to find in them the fodder for continuous change. Because King was right, and it’s important for us to remember during this season, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”.
Come what may, let’s give our confidence to a stronger and wiser view of progress than one that can be derailed by lazy conspiracies and aberrant policies fixated on the past. Let’s root our confidence and our moral courage in the prevailing wisdom of change.
PS - If you haven’t yet, and you have the right, vote.