Every year in the fall I hold my breath to wait to see the colors revealed on our hills. If you didn’t know trees do not show the same color every year. Their color is determined by that growing year. The cold days where they rested to the final moments before their colors turned are what decide the colors they will show. The year writes their story of the parts of themselves that we see as their beauty. The colors can reveal silent truths about that year’s rain, droughts, cold, heat, and so much more. They are markers of that tree’s year.
They then spend a few final weeks of their growing season revealing all of the things that identified them that year. They paint the hills with their truths. We as humans plan color tours to celebrate what the trees are speaking to us. We capture photos and get pumpkins while the trees are vulnerably showing who they are to us. It is this beautiful and painful experience we get to witness as humans amongst the trees around us.
The trees then let go of their leaves as the winds capture them from the north and the west. Little by the little they let go of their year of growing and all of their truths. The silhouttes of their branches all revealed in their most bare and naked state. They get down to their very being released of all that identified them. Then instead of choosing to shoot out new leaves immediately they rest. They send every ounce of their energy down into their roots to dig deeper and steady themselves better than the year before. They find new sources of water, they communicate and connect more deeply, and then in the exact right moment they choose new brands and new places to bud. The begin the process of blossoming perfectly once again with bright green buds.
Though the science of processes of how this works is much more complicated, I have come to complete reverence this year for the simplest form of the year in the life of a tree.
Often I have looked to books, podcasts, e-0courses…you name it to teach me how to identify what I now see the greatest teacher of growth and adaptation has been right beside me for years.
As a child I was enamored with trees. I found them to be my place of calm. I would spend my days meandering through them. They were my place of infinite possibilities. Now, at this stage in my life I have spent more time than normal amongst them. I have been using them as my guides during this turbulent time. I watch as they bend with the wind as storms roll through. I notice how they give a branch and make a new one in a new direction. Constantly adapting in silent strength.
The last few months I have been working with a business counselor to help me wade my way through the tunnel of change in my career I am in. The first time we met I worked through a deep level of grief I hadn’t identified about slowing down in my career right now. He helped me work through giving myself full permission to be in this chapter of my life. Once I worked through the thick and heavy waters of grief of my old ways, I found myself in a new light opening myself to all the possibilities. For the first time I am truly evaluating what success is to myself and I am wading through the acceptance of it all. I am letting go of old ways I had taken on through the years of my career. I am revealing to myself all the parts of myself. Each one like a leaf where the times of my past have painted a picture to me. I acknowledge it and let it go with the breeze.
These things aren’t happening though in the quiet of a deep session of silence no they are happening while chopping onions for dinner and a baby holding to my leg and trying to walk. They are happening while I hold the hand of my 4 year old and he lets go as we wander through the fields at sunset on a cool fall day. They are happening while I do the dishes. They are happening while folding laundry. They are happening while I get water for the chickens. They are happening while I tend to the garden and prep it for winter.
What I am saying is that we can be in the experience of our lives. We can be wading through a season, while we still slowly meander through self discovery. We can be in a gentle state of reflection and openness to ourselves while we are in the mundane and simplest forms of life. I kept feeling their was going to be this perfect place to process this all in my head, but as I watch the trees and they turn and change still as the routines of life unfold I realized I too can do the same.
As the trees slowly lose their leaves, I know one day we will awake and all we will have left of them will be their trunks and branches. Their barest selves. I sense in myself I will get their too in the coming weeks and months. I will have identified the things I need to in this time and let them go. My plan then isn’t to instantly do the work to rush back into something. Instead I will spend the energy much like the trees to put down deeper roots, set a strong foundation in a way I have never done before in my career and self. Then just as the trees do I will bloom and begin in a new way at the exact right moment even if I do not yet know the moment. It is coming. I sense it. But I also sense the importance of sitting here in our bare and most revealed state of being.
Every year when the trees begin this season I find myself in deep reflection and every year I find myself learning new things. This year more than ever I am looking to the wisdom of the trees to help guide me. I am looking to be more deeply intune with the nature around me and in me so I can be more open and gentle with the way I view myself and those around me.
The work is big but happens in small steps. One leaf at a time falling to the ground. One bit of the story revealed and made evident. One more step into opening up to something new so when the time comes I know just how I hope to enter the next chapter of life.