Tree leaves continue to accumulate on the lawn. They remind me of the life cycle of elm trees. Now, the trees are entering their dormant cycle as they prepare for the harshness of a Great Plains winter. As I sweep some of the leaves off of the sidewalk, I remember that this spring, brown elm flower fragments covered the yard and concrete surfaces. Later in the spring, seeds fell from the branches. In the summertime, the leaves have grown mature and show some wear and tear from insects. By next month, I should have the last of the dropped leaves removed in readiness for snows.
Meantime, humans have used the seasons of Earth as metaphors for the stages of our life cycle. Spring represents childhood and adolescence. Summer reminds us of adulthood. Autumn tells us we are growing older. Winter stands in for our elder years. Just as there is overlap and slow transition regarding Earth’s seasons, the same can be said for our human seasons of life.
These human seasons are highly subjective according to our moods and general outlook on life. Sometimes it seems as if I am still in late summer and other times I feel like I’m experiencing late fall. The late fall feeling happens when I experience the same health symptoms my parents and grandparents felt as they aged. It is during our human autumn that most of us begin to honestly understand the fact of impermanence.
As humans age, we typically become more resistant to change because we feel that it is being forced upon us. Change can become a source of great stress when we attempt to force change from running its course. When we accept that impermanence has no exemptions our lives can feel more precious; we can take the chance to emotionally improve.
While people watching at the public library the other day, I noticed the styles of blue jeans people were wearing. A few young men and women wore jeans with wide, gaping holes at the legs. This fad has been popular far longer than it should be. When I was their age, bell bottom and flared bottom jeans were the style. Fortunately, the flares went out of style relatively quickly. Who remembers the designer jeans of the 1970s? I wore them for a few years before regressing to standard western-style Levis and Wranglers. I’ve been wearing standard-issue and “dad” jeans for the past couple of decades.
Does my act of opinionating about blue jeans styles indicate that I’m in the autumn season of life; or that ripped and torn blue jeans have outlived their style season? I own a faded pair of Carhartt blue jeans that are worn out and have small holes that I’ve sewn shut. They have various colors of paint spatters and areas where motor oil have stained the fabric. I facetiously wonder if this will be the next fashion statement for the truly hip people.
After proofreading the previous paragraph, I realize that the comments are akin to what my father would have said when I sported bell bottoms during my youth. I should add that dad owned a pair of dungarees that he wore as chore pants. They also had paint spatters and grease stains. The holes in those pants were repaired by sewing or with small patches. Like father, like son–another sign of the human life cycle.
I look up from the desk in the music room and ponder the lawn beyond the window. I’m reminded again about the need to rake the elm leaves. Life goes on.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes from writer Daniel Abraham’s “The Price of Spring”. “The flower that wilted last year is gone. Petals once fallen are fallen forever. Flowers do not return in the spring, rather they are replaced. It is in this difference between returned and replaced that the price of renewal is paid.
And as it is for spring flowers, so it is for us.”