IT IS NO coincidence, of this I am certain, that as I took five minutes this morning to flip through my recently ignored inbox, Maria Popova had sent me this via her always illuminating Sunday Brain Pickings newsletter:
What, then, of autumn — that liminal space between beauty and bleakness, foreboding and bittersweet, yet lovely in its own way? Colette, in her meditation on the splendor of autumn and the autumn of life, celebrated it as a beginning rather than a decline. But perhaps it is neither — perhaps, between its falling leaves and fading light, it is not a movement toward gain or loss but an invitation to attentive stillness and absolute presence, reminding us to cherish the beauty of life not despite its perishability but precisely because of it; because the impermanence of things — of seasons and lifetimes and galaxies and loves — is what confers preciousness and sweetness upon them.
It was a passage I needed to read as we are in a season of change, Tim and I, making the small move from one house to another, from one town to another hardly 40 minutes away.
And yet it feels monumental. And by that I should explain that I mean less the move and more the change–articulated in notes both sharp and sweet as over the past three weeks I have sifted through every moment and memory of my nearly 60 years and made a distinction between that which is worth keeping and what to kiss and let go. Add to that the boxes and bags and trunks–endless as they feel–filled with treasures from so many lifetimes: my mother’s, my father’s, my grandparent’s (four); my great-grandparents (both sides) and great aunts and uncles, all of whom placed great value in beauty and treasure and legacy.
There has been the “why on earth did I/they keep this?” easy decision, but to tell you the truth, that has been rare. Way more often, and way more difficult, is the reality that for most of these things–mine and theirs–these are the things of a lifetime that were deemed, specifically, worthy of saving. Across time, and across generations.
Popova’s newsletter has reminded me, through Colette’s words, what preciousness really is, and that as is evidenced by autumn, it is the impermanence of things that bestows upon them such loveliness.
For it is true, of course. And it makes it all the more beautiful and poignant that, for me, all this change has come in October. It has been a steeping in my own season of impermanence, this month with its “falling leaves and fading light.” It will not be long before the trucks come and I will stand on the edge to say goodbye to our pretty spot on Bickley’s Pond. I will look to the sweet mallard couple who has shared their love and loss with us, and the eagles who welcomed us here and who still come, from time to time, to check on our cove. To the bluebird house and the birdbath (which, I should tell you, is filled every afternoon with such a mess of teenage bluebirds you can’t help but laugh as LORD HAVE MERCY they do carry on).
And I will get in my loaded car and drive to Columbia to our oh-so-pretty new place. It offers its own promises, of course: close proximity to so much the city offers; a lifestyle, active and uptown. My sweet Eliza will be close by, too, the greatest gift of this change and, quite frankly, our greatest motivation. For as much as we love being here, time with her will be the new reward and, of course, the greatest of treasures.
AUTUMN IS beautiful, this liminal space. I will try to remember this as I walk through the approaching busy days. I will let the changing colors and shifting tones and the soft move to winter remind me there is nevertheless a stillness, and a way to hold myself in presence. Because that’s what life is really about, what life requires, don’t you think? This moving ahead, this coming along, season-to-season, but also the noticing. The celebrating, and the honoring.
It’s what I hope to have done with all the things, now that I write that. I hope I have considered and honored well, even when–especially when–I have loved and let go.
I hope I have honored well.