Fall is coming and with it that melancholy shifting from the bright light into the dark, the toasty warm sun weakening and the brisk golden afternoons coming on… I love the fall, I am at home here. There seems to be more texture, more variability as we travel from the carefree joy of summer to the sleepy, reflective darkness of winter and take to knitting and lying under blankets on the couch with our cup of tea.
Back in the 70’s it was all the rage to consult a color specialist who would create for you a special palette that was “your season”. An eccentric red-haired San Francisco lady named Suzanne became a huge success, and thousands of women from the city and beyond would troop to her salon and seek her wisdom. After all wasn’t it obvious that we all needed to know what colors to wear or use in decorating our house in order to have a happy and fulfilled life? All my women friends went, and so did I – despite my proud reputation for being a skeptic. I’m sure I already knew that fall was my season, and lo and behold, Suzanne confirmed this for me, handing me a palette of beautiful variations on brown, all variety of greens, ochres, and earthy reds. I was amused, I think, since I had already collected these colors over the years. I’m happy to say that I didn’t follow the lead of some of my fanatical friends who organized their closets according to their colors! As I look back on this, I smile at the frivolity and vanity. But we were in our thirties and proudly defining our femaleness back then, convinced we were in control, with some great end goal to our quest.
Beyond the rich beauty of its palette, and the amazing red and yellow crackling leaves, fall represents a time of transformation, of moving from action and creation and interaction into reflection, pause, and rest. I’m sitting now on my couch covered by a white blanket and my body is struggling to breathe normally, my bones are aching, and I hunger for sleep. My annual bad cold has arrived. I’m not as interested in how I caught it as I am in viewing it as a message from the universe to slow the journey down. These are the words of an older woman. When you’re in your 30’s and 40’s, you look down that long road ahead of you and don’t consider the notion of pausing. Then you age and fall back into the habit of driving yourself to achieve, and the body’s truth comes through loud and clear. Time to stop and rest.
This year I have traveled a bit – to New York to the Galapagos, and a handful of meditation retreats – I wouldn’t say it’s an inordinate amount of activity; I have worked many long hours tweaking the manuscript of my memoir to get it ready for publication – sitting at a desk isn’t exactly hard labor, is it? In November I will travel to a place I’ve never been: Japan. A joint adventure with my oldest daughter, a chance to view this exotic, mysterious, zen-like culture through the lens of a camera. Going that far is daunting, but, hey, I’m a world traveler — that’s what I keep saying in my bio statements to editors. And as such, I must continue to trek. AND…. I sit right now trying to imagine a 14 hour airplane ride, marching up stone steps to old temples, getting on and off trains with way too much luggage, trying to absorb all that comes my way, and my body tells me “enough already.” Rest now. In fact, rest when you need to. But do I know how? There must really be an art to resting, one that I haven’t yet mastered.
I can rest just fine when it’s dark at night, the cat and dog are on my bed, and I know it’s time to sleep, but what about those other times? Those times when we could replenish ourselves by sitting with an afghan and a good book in late afternoon. This is my idea of what true rest looks like… I have so many books piled on the surfaces in my house, waiting to be chosen by me, and just becoming aware of that is far from restful. I sometimes feel plagued by attention deficit… I start one book, then veer off to another … and another. Oh, and I need to read up on Japan, so I pick from my pile of travel books. And then in the midst of the distraction, I remember that I haven’t planned anything for Thanksgiving. Or I think of the remaining pages of the book that must be polished to perfection…
But what about the great new memoir(S) that are right here waiting? Two titles are provocative to say the least — The Inventors, and The Love of Impermanent Things. Lovely simple titles for books which are undoubtedly layered and complex. You see how I’m leading myself to the trough to partake? Excuse me now while I sign off and pick one of these books … Perhaps in the following blog I’ll have something to say about that restful experience.