This week swirling Autumn leaves and dwindling daylength has me contemplating the gifts of a slower season of life, the fleeting nature of things, and the need to savor the moments and things that really matter to us most.
Earlier this week Mom and I had errands to run in Duluth and had to get going to get everything done. But we stepped outside and— oh my!
The morning forest glowed with yellows and oranges, rusts and reds of fall leaves on the trees, carpeting the ground, and fluttering down through the air. Sunshine lit a sky so deep and wide and blue you could fall in. Ravens and a few little migratory birds cronked (how do you describe a raven voice anyway?) and warbled soft statements through the otherwise still, quiet morning.
It was a drop-everything-and-walk-in-the-woods kind of moment. So we did.
We swished through dry leaves and spicy Fall air down a path through the woods and back- not a longs way, but long enough to soak in the colorful, spicy medicine of a Fall forest. That short walk in the woods together has fed and filled us both up and made us happier, healthier, and probably nicer to be around all week.
Slowing down and savoring the seasons is necessary medicine for our bodies, minds, spirits.
There’s plenty of research (and common sense) showing that time spent in natural settings and natural beauty, in meditative/contemplative brain states, in non-stressed-out mode is really really good for us humans. The gifts of slowing down, of savoring the moment, being outside, of just being range from improved blood pressure, mood, and stress hormone levels; increased sense of well-being; to better focus and “productivity” once we step back into the fray, to name a few.
But modern expectations and pace of life can make it challenging to let go, to carve out the space and time and focus that allows us to unplug, and to not feel guilty about it.
This week a common theme in conversations I’ve been in is how hard it can be to completely relax, to let go of obligations and to-do lists, and the need to be “accomplishing” something. About how many of us often feel our value and self-worth and fulfillment based on what we do. We feel purposeful in the rush of busyness. We don’t like it, but there it is.
Friends, life is short. I know that sounds cliche— and it’s still true. I’m reminded of it every day in my nursing work, in the loved one who had a heart attack or got a scary new diagnosis, natural disasters, the car accident, the close call, the fleeting season.
You just never know. And time marches on.
Only one day after Mom and I walked in the woods that morning, the leaves had all mostly fallen and the sky was gray and blustery.
We’ve said over and over this week how glad we are that we claimed the time to walk in the woods on that golden morning before we left for town, because even though we didn’t know it then, that was our last chance for it this year. We could have completely missed out.
Yes, we all need to put food on the table, care for our loved ones and communities, pay the bills, keep those balls in the air.
But modern culture has taken doing and busyness beyond what is healthy or sustainable or effective or necessary.
Let’s not ‘spend’ our time always in doing and striving and busyness.
Let’s make some time to savor, to connect with and support each other, to deeply relax, to witness beauty and goodness in the world, to play and have fun just because.
Let's just be sometimes— with no agenda, task, or ‘should’ driving us.