Through the ages, people with philosophical, literary, or artistic inclinations have seen a connection between the seasons of nature and the flow of human lives. Our youth represents spring with its boundless promise. We then enjoy a long summer in terms of health and maturity. With the advance of age, our trajectory might decline as we enter the fall season.
In modern times, with our overwhelming tendency to focus on youth, the transition from our peak years can be viewed negatively. Here’s how nature can teach us to handle the downturn of autumn with grace and poise:
A time to reap
Autumn triggers a change in various organisms. Many plants begin to bear fruit, which is the mechanism for their seed dispersal. Likewise, animals start to forage more to fatten up and survive the winter. Thus, people have traditionally associated autumn with the harvest and the hunt. Farmers cull their fields and fill their siloes, while outdoorsmen dust off their hunting gear and visit fishing stores to enjoy the best season for the game.
These patterns can extend to your life. It is no longer a time to be obsessed with productivity or chasing new opportunities. Permit yourself to enjoy the fruits of your hard work over the years. At the same time, keep an eye on the winter ahead and save enough money for a comfortable retirement.
Shedding the unnecessary
Especially among plants, the changes of autumn reflect a decline in available energy throughout the ecosystem. The rays of the sun provide less warmth and energy. In turn, the abundance and growth of summer cannot be sustained. Leaves change their color; the green pigment chlorophyll no longer captures the sun’s energy as efficiently, so red and yellow pigments emerge. Excess foliage is shed, as it can no longer justify its upkeep cost in terms of nourishment.
When you reach a similar stage in life, holding on to the concerns and remaining invested in matters of younger days will only result in diminishing returns. The autumn of life is a time to let go of whatever is not essential; status anxiety, clutter in the home, or stress from work and relationships. You can also do away with concerns over the opinions of people who don’t matter and find the freedom to do what you truly want.
The fall season is the time of the autumnal equinox (when the length of day and night are equal). This is also an inflection point. From here on until the winter solstice, nights will only grow longer and days shorter. People around the world celebrate the equinox with festivals such as Diwali, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. Take inspiration, and celebrate this moment of reorienting your sense of balance in life.
New opportunities for gratitude and honest introspection might be open to you. Focus on your core values and seek a greater purpose in life, if you haven’t already found it. This can be a time to pursue your passion and discover a second career at your leisure.
Today’s world emphasizes youth culture and maximizing opportunities and productivity in one’s prime. The transition to our autumn years can be overlooked. Don’t resist or deny it. Celebrate it as a natural shift and make the adjustments for the flow of age.