This is what fall looks like in Ellensburg
6th Ave., looking west from the corner of Walnut & 6th in the Fall. Ellensburg Wa.
It’s official. Fall is here! Most people associate Spring with rebirth and newness–with good reason–but I don’t. For me, its the Fall that represents new beginnings and rebirths—more so than Spring or new years. To borrow a couple of metaphors from Christianity, Fall feels like a “born-again” experience——a “baptism.” Nature wipes the slate clean. What needs to die, dies and a new version of that thing is sown.
Fall is also a particularly good time for me to reflect on the previous year and look forward to the next. A lot of the more significant events in my life have taken place in the Fall, and last Fall was no exception. So, here are ten lessons that I have learned in the past twelve months.
1. I don’t have to fix everything. Life has constantly thrown things at me that left me feeling hopeless and broken. I no longer feel that I need to fix it all. I can leave some things unfixed and even out of my life.
2. I can get through anything if I have music. I wrote briefly about music earlier this month. In the midst of painful times, music makes me stronger (often times gentler) and able to endure. Some months I felt utterly alone and hopeless, but never in solitude so long as I had music by my side.
3. Meditation is not what you think it is. Movies made me think that meditation was this new-age-religious thing. It isn’t. I have meditated almost daily during the last twelve months, and while I can’t say that I have learned to quiet my mind (I don’t believe I ever will), I understand the patterns in my mind that trigger anxiety, stress, hopelessness, and sadness better. I also enjoy spending time with myself.
4. Don’t drink too much. I started drinking three years ago. I drank during the day, at work, home, and late at night. Alcohol never made life any better, it only made me sleepy and my feet really warm! Now, I mostly drink to try out new drinks and learn to mix them myself. And I still don’t like beer.
5. It’s ok to cry. I’ve never had a problem expressing my sensitivity, even when I didn’t understand it. But being so sensitive has always made me feel weak and stupid. But like Fall, when I cry it is a “born-again” experience.
6. Tell people how I feel. I have been very damaging in the past because of my tendency to succumb to passive-aggressive words, and actions. No one knows this better than my wife, mother, and sister whom I have hurt the most because of it. It is much simpler to be honest about how I feel. I’m practicing doing it with tact.
7. Some people can can change your life in a short time and with very little effort. I made a friend in the last twelve months. His name is Davis and now lives in L.A. He introduced me to the practice of chanting–which I practice almost daily. His kindness and optimism changed me in ways that I still don’t understand. I do believe that people come into your life for a reason, and leave for a reason. I am less eager to make new friendships in my new town, but I do make a better effort to appreciate the people who make my life better and distance myself from those who add toxicity to it. Davis made me better.
8. Take lots of pictures. I don’t want to live in the moment through a 5” screen–I try not to. But I have learned that my mind can compact enormous amounts of emotions, thoughts and memories into a photograph. These help me sort through parts of my life that I do not understand completely.
9. Stop gossiping or putting people down. Even if they will never know. Earlier in the year I kept getting caught in a barb wire snare of critical conversations around my brother in law. Something about it made me feel self-righteous thinking that I was better at life than he was. It can feel validating to watch the chaos that is NOT in your life ensue in the lives of others by being a part of the grapevine, but it’s not admirable.
10. Forgive myself I’ve done some pretty terrible things to others. I have lied, taken advantage of friends and even family, screamed some of the most unkind words etc. Sometimes, these things nag at me in the back of my head for much longer than they should. There comes a time when I just need to forgive myself no matter how difficult, heartbreaking or painful they may have been. There are things that I haven’t forgiven myself for yet. It’s a work in progress I guess.
When I wrote this, I was listening to this song: