“When the seasons shift, even the subtle beginning, the scent of a promised change, I feel something stir inside me. Hopefulness? Gratitude? Openness? Whatever it is, it’s welcome.” – Kristin Armstrong
Ageist notions and fears abound in our culture which feed the natural anxiety about growing older with products and mantras that privilege youth over maturity. While qualities of young life—vigor and boundless energy to name a few—are of course desirable, they don’t belong solely to our earliest years. We’ve written in recent months about how exercise can literally decrease aging’s footprint in your DNA. While this doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to look 30 when you’re 65, it does mean, much more importantly, that you’re going to feel it as you rediscover those attributes we’ve misaligned with youth—a spring in your step, increased strength, a boost in energy. We’ve also written about how aging is a mindset of sorts and how approaching all you are still capable of with tenacity, confidence, and positivity empowers you to experience your life’s seasons as you age To view them as fresh opportunities rife with hope rather than hindrances.
As we settle into autumn weather, much of the country sees its natural surroundings transform into dramatic hillsides of copper, goldand burnt orange. Large flocks of birds soar against flat blue skies as they migrate to warmer climates. All that was green and blossoming a few months ago morph into a tapestry of change as leaves, petals, seeds, and pollen travel on the breeze and settle into their next purpose—the promise of new growth, the future nutrients of rich loamy soil. Many would say fall is the most dramatic and beautiful of seasons, but often we neglect to consider why or how it is so. The implications are significant to our own appreciation for change itself—this shift from the verdant opulence of summer, with its lush greenery and bountiful provision of the earth’s fruit, to the harvesting of all that has been so diligently worked for, that those moments of striving and growing have led to.
What if we looked at the fall of our lives—the harvesting of our years of toiling and wild growth—with the same deep appreciation and reverence? What if we celebrated the inherent beauty and necessity of change from frenetic effort and busyness that underpin the massive production unique to the summer, to fall’s concentrated significance as potent and profound? Yes, aging is inevitable, as is change. Time marches on and healthy concerns and questions of what growing older leads to is natural. It’s an important and unavoidable reality of being human. And yet that can’t eclipse our perception, for our time is infinitely better spent in a grateful openness toward each season of our lives, and within those years themselves. If we can hold a gratitude and understanding that glances at autumn leaves seeing none of their loss and all of their gain—from vital green to burnished gold — we can also perceive such changes in our years as opportunities full of promise, meaning and purpose for all the seasons we have known, and all those yet to come.