Trees crave attention. What else explains the clownish way their leaves behave each Fall, spinning like Ferris Wheels as they coast to the ground? Why else would they drown themselves in golden make up or wear fiery masks of red?
I believe they’re trying to teach us something.
As the trees transform, it might seem like they’re just showing off — rattling limbs and boasting new colors while undergoing their annual, ritualistic prep for winter. But look closer. There, lost in the theatrics of the changing season, is a profound lesson.
It’s called the art of surrender: The simple act of letting go.
Trees, flowers, shrubbery and even weeds don’t go into a tizzy, fighting against the inevitable. They roll with it. They let it happen. Leaves sail from branches. Petals scatter and stems wither. Tall reeds turn various shades of brown then die. All of nature flows in cooperation with the steady rhythms of life and the harmony of what is meant to be.
Humans do the opposite. We cling to the past far longer than we need to and often perceive the shifts that occur in our lives as threats to our security. An uninvited transition is treated like a virus, an intruder we need to stomp out.We forget that a job loss could be an open door to something greater or that a failed relationship could lead to a better, more compatible match. Instead of yielding, we moan, we complain, we kick and scream.
Years ago, I had this notion put to the test. A job I cherished was yanked away and I moped for weeks, unsure of my next step and concerned that the industry I had worked in for years was about to collapse. Then I noticed the silent messages all around me. I gazed at a weeping willow tree, its head bowed and long, fluid branches absorbing moisture from damp soil. I watched a squirrel successfully scurry along a tree branch that was far too thin to support its plump body. And, in silent awe, I observed a fluff of pollen float into my car only to be gently carried out of the window by a gust of wind.
This is trust, I thought. This is the kind of faith that nature will teach us if we’re willing to listen.
My circumstances improved tremendously but not until I accepted my experience the way spiritual teacher, Ram Dass, often instructs. Dass explains that problems don’t cause angst. He says “the resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”
Mother Nature understands this. She’s an invisible Houdini who quiets storms and makes dark clouds fade so the rainbows can rise. Life, according to Mother Nature, is not a static existence. The shattered expectations we’re crying over are vestiges of fleeting realities. Like fireflies, these realities were never intended to be permanent. They flash into our awareness, then flash out to shove us onto a higher path.
Our joys and our woes are part of that path and, perhaps, just a series of ripples in a beautiful tide. When we ride the tide, we’re on our way to healing. By refusing to remain entangled in old dramas, we are opening our spirits to exciting new adventures. A good friend of mine once put it this way:
“You can’t receive anything when your fists are clenched. You must first open your hands.”
Autumn is upon us and it is screaming for us to open our hands. Appreciate what was and be receptive to the roses that have not yet bloomed. Let yesterday’s dead foliage return to the Earth.
Tomorrow’s blossoms might be sweeter than you think.