Above the shadowy deciduous trees, the evergreens stand glowing green-gold in the light as the crows fly over in black-gold wings, the robins’ chuckle, and a morning dove flies quietly into the maple.
I am more content than normal as I walk down the slope toward the flames of trees in yellow leaves. The ground feels soft, as if this is the one place in the world I am invited to be in right now. That there is one specific place I belong in each moment but I am rarely there except this morning.
I walk to the tupelo trees. They are sporting a few red leaves already and I wish I could come every day to watch them turn.
Along the Maple Trail I listen to a Northern Flicker and a Stellar’s Jay before I sit down on a bench to bask in the calm mood. I really wear myself out trying to live a genuine life. This always seemed ironic until I met a woman from an ashram in India; she thought humans would do well to give up the idea that living a life of joy and peace should be easy.
I’ve been thinking about this ever since. All those years I wanted to be enlightened and tried to make myself content to wait tables because I believed that conquering my ego was the only way to true contentment. My guru of the time believed that once I was enlightened life would guide me to a new and fulfilling career. Instead of finding such divine guidance I grew arrogant believing I was more enlightened than the average person and that enlightenment was the only worthy goal.
Today I consider the trees and plants—is it ever uncomfortable to blossom and fruit? Does it strain their peace in spring to produce so much new fiber? Do they enjoy the tumult?
I sit down in the beech grove to draw and decide I might find more peace and humility by making my own effort to grow a life from the things I love. To be like the trees who make so many leaves. Only when summer yields to the autumn chill do they begin the delicate task of surrender, letting each go in its own time to land in the exact place it has been invited to rest.