Ever since we’ve been relegated to the inside of our homes, I have made it a point to go outside. Not only for the health benefits of sunshine, but also for the mind benefits of a new vantage. And perhaps a bit of vanity, as my ass actually felt flatter for not walking as much as I did. Much to my surprise, this routine actually stuck and I’ve been walking almost everyday since March. But earlier this week, just before the first day of Autumn, I noticed something. Something that has been happening every single day, I was just too preoccupied to notice. The earth is ever changing. So now that autumn is upon us, it’s time to find the balance between the within and the without.
Autumn leaves are the confetti which falls as Nature celebrates the end of a season.
~Madam Josie de Vere
A Poetic Autumn
Today I watched as a single maple leaf flittered its way to the ground. It was graceful. It just let itself go and faithfully accepted that it shall fall where it may. In a moment I both loved and envied that little leaf. But my appreciation for bearing witness to such a simple and monumental event is what resonated.
You see, this shift in perspective actually began Monday, the last day of summer. Along my walk that day the grass was still brilliantly green. Which made an exceptionally beautiful backdrop for the thousands of cattail leaves which were changing to the most lovely shade of Autumn orange. I had walked by that marshy area countless times and never noticed the changes. I was equally overjoyed with the realization, and heartbroken by my mind’s ever-present preoccupation.
But my experience didn’t end there. I forced myself to take a mental picture, as to not live my life through the lens of my phone’s camera and carried on. I was close to home when I saw that the trees in a neighbor’s yard had begun to scatter their own autumn yellows and reds upon the summer’s green grass. And that’s when I realized just how dramatic something has to be for me to take notice. Have I become so desensitized to the life which happens all around me? Have I become so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I am able to look at things but not truly see how they too are affected by the inhale of a sunrise and an exhale by the moon? I had so many rhetorical questions, but there was still something even more profound to be learned as Autumn whispered the news of her arrival unto the trees.
Autumn is my favorite season. And spring is a close second. Nothing against summer and winter, though. I just like watching the earth change. There is beauty in the rebirth of spring, but there is a splendor I have trouble describing in the colors of autumn. They warm my heart, similar to coffee. And every year, even in the dead of winter, I look at other people’s pictures of autumn and say to myself, “I wish I could experience autumn like that.” And then I realized – that thought didn’t end with autumn. No matter the scene or season, it seems that I am regularly experiencing my life through the images of others.
In a moment, a cascade of realization showed me that thoughts of what I “have to do” have always preoccupied my mind and gotten in the way of truly experiencing life outside of myself. What was even worse was by the time I “made time” for the season, it was almost always too late to truly embrace all it had to offer.
It’s ironic that so many of the posts we “like” on social media encourage us to embrace and experience each day. And no matter how much I complain about social media, I’m just as guilty as the next person.
Autumn Has a Secret
There are a variety of traditions which accompany Autumn. Historically, Autumn is the time to reap the harvest of the seeds we sowed in Spring. But even if you’re not a farmer, the season is preparing us for the chilling dormancy of Winter. And our bodies are changing as well.
It seems that just as Autumn whispers to the trees and requests that they prepare for winter, she does the same to humans. All of the seasons have very subtle effects on the human brain, hormone levels, immune system, and more. But science knows that in autumn both men and women see their highest testosterone levels. And since testosterone is a driving factor in sex drive, it may very well be a good time to get a little more than cozy as the evening chill sets in. What’s more, a study suggests that our short-term memory seems better in autumn. A total bonus for the days which follow.
So it seems that humans are just as susceptible to seasonal chemical changes as plants and their fall foliage.
Awkward Autumn Detail
And now it’s time for me to share some awkward science with you. It seems that our body shapes change with the seasons, too. Fat is deposited in different areas due to testosterone levels. Take a bit of comfort in that this has to do with where we store our fat, and not all fat. But that really doesn’t make me feel better. Anyway…women’s bellies hold more fat in Autumn, which is when their testosterone levels have peaked, and are curvier in Winter. Whereas men experience more belly fat in Spring when their testosterone levels are lowest, but somehow still look manlier in Spring. It almost seems unfair. Women both hold fat in their bellies and are hornier in Autumn. To make matters even more disappointing, in most Western cultures research suggests that belly fat in women is considered unattractive. *Thumbs down*
But after that mildly depressing detail, I just can’t resist the urge to point out that trees redistribute nutrients to their trunk and into their roots. So take comfort in it being completely natural, ladies!
Seasons Come and Seasons Go
So here I sit, thinking about ways to tie this all together. But the only thought which keeps occurring to me is that none of this truly matters. Hormone fluctuations, Vitamin D deficiencies, short-term memory improvements. Yes, these are all important. But what good are any of them if we waste our gift of self awareness on being lost in our own thoughts? Even if those thoughts are really good ones.
The truth is that these bodies we’ve been gifted are somehow perfectly harmonized with the world around us. Yet so many of us talk, scroll, and dream about a day which will (hopefully) come. But we are failing to realize that we need to silence the distractions in order to hear what our bodies are telling us. Nature has primed our bodies for a season of love, despite where our fat descends. Embrace yourself and embrace the season!
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