Saturday night I was taking Homer for an evening walk along the shores of the Mighty Okabena when I decided to stop and sit for a while on a park bench in Chautauqua Park. The sun was setting, there was a nice breeze coming off of the lake and the weather was perfect.
Before I knew it, I caught myself slipping into a little bit of an introspective mood. (The better word might be “reflective” but I went with “introspective” so that nobody thought I felt as though I had a mirror-like quality. I digress.) Both Homer and I were taking in the tranquility of it all when I started noticing the leaves on the trees.
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. Besides the fact that, in my humble opinion, fall is the best time of year for sports-minded people such as myself, there are plenty of things to love about the current season. There is the color of the aforementioned leaves, the temperatures that aren’t too hot but are still warm enough to be outdoors without dressing like you’re about to climb Mount Everest and the crispness of the air. I could go on.
It’s always felt a little strange to me that I enjoy autumn for any reason other than the sports factor. I’ve usually looked at it as a season of change; when the summer heat (and sweatiness) gives way to the cold and snow so that everything can be clean and fresh again in the spring. But here’s the kicker: for as long as I can remember, I’ve dreaded change.
From the smallest change – like getting a new dresser in my bedroom as a child – to bigger ones – like moving to Kansas, as I did in 2012 – I’ve always approached them with apprehension. I’ll even admit, there’s probably a little bit (maybe a lot in some cases) of fear involved.
It’s not difficult to pinpoint the reason. Change means stepping outside of your comfort zone. (Heck, what if one of those dresser drawers sticks and I have to yank and yank every time I want to put on a clean t-shirt? The old one didn’t do that. It was a perfectly fine dresser. Why change it?)
I looked at the leaves that evening and thought about change, and how many of them I’ve undergone in my life. Moves to new places and new jobs, drifting apart from old friends and making new ones, the things I like to do for fun, what I value and how those have changed from 10, even five years ago. (I’ll be the first to admit, I think I’m a lot different now than I was five years ago. In most, but possibly not all, cases I think I’ve changed for the better.)
I guess you could say all of this led me to an epiphany. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not that old. I’ve already undergone more changes – both large and small – than I could ever count; and I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I’ll see when I look back 30-40-50 years from now. Through all of those changes – most of which I fought tooth and nail – I survived. My life didn’t end or become drastically worse when I moved to Kansas anymore than it did when I got a new dresser as an 8-year-old.
Looking at it from that perspective, I feel a little silly knowing how uncomfortable change has been for me. That’s why I think autumn is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. (See what I did there?)
It’s going to be a process, but I want to begin looking at change from a different angle; to start seeing it as an opportunity rather than a monster waiting to tear my world apart. So far, most of the changes in my life have turned out pretty well. It’s time I start embracing them.