The leaves fall, detached from nurturing branches, withered, crimson, fallen from grace. This is not only reminiscent of a my personal battles, but also of society in general, a barren landscape, carpeted with the immoral, in desperate need of transformation. That seems a bit bleak because in reality I absolutely love the fall, especially for the relevancy of dormancy and change. The fall brings with it a flood of familia memories that go as far back as I can remember. It is a space in time that precedes the holiday season, and the gratuitous celebrations, but also a time of darkness and loneliness.
I remember learning that my grandfather was the only child in his family not to receive a college education. This was due to a falling out with his parents when he was a very young man. Known as the fiery redhead, he was stubborn, young, and ever so arrogant. I have to assume he was putting pride over prudence and I wonder if he ever regretted not making amends with his parents? He managed the local dime store, married Ruth Allinson the milliner, but had to fire her first, because he was not allowed to date employees. He took his young family out west to make it on his own. I imagine more than once he felt lost and alone.
We all fall, look around, no-one escapes this reality. When I fail I am forced to contemplate not only the past, but the present, and future. Where did I come from, where am I going, who is it that I want to be? This is my opportunity for change, a personal revolution, or I simply become irrelevant. I start my transformation with a big pot of soup, I read, write long letters, and irrelevant blogs. I get quiet. I sit outside with a blanket and my thoughts. I listen. A self inflicted hibernation, where I emerge in the spring, renewed, restored, starving for relevancy.
“Bid the last fruit to ripen on the vine, allow them still two friendly southern days to bring them to perfection and to force the final sweetness in the heavy wine.” Rilke
We continue to ripen throughout this life so when harvest comes we are ready for the “big” transformation. But I am not only preparing for death I am preparing for a germane life. The nuclear family is where we learn to listen and share, to be patient and kind, to help one another, and of course to tease the shit out of each other. Unfortunately intolerance is also learned around the dinner table and I’ve come to believe this is our achilles heel. If you do not believe what I believe or how I believe you are out. What does it feel like to be an outsider? To be rejected? Families are the worst at allowing conflicting opinions to exist side by side, with mutual respect and inclusion, and sadly this has infiltrated our society.
Families that practice resiliency have a much better survival rate than those who dominate, disassociate, and disavowal their members. I imagine that follows for states, countries, and governments as well. What is resiliency? The ability to thrive and survive in the face of change I learned this from Seth Godin. It is a skill, learned behavior, and habit forming.
“If you can’t say, ‘I made a mistake,’ then it’s incredibly difficult to lead. You end up managing instead, picking small fights, skirting the rules and blaming the ref.” Godin
I am deeply embedded, permanently marked, with the moral framework of my family of origin. I am kidding myself if I don’t think this seeps into my life, affecting my personal decisions, and the way I maneuver in this world. If family doesn’t regularly remind us to be good, loving, and kind then who is ultimately responsible for our character development? Churches, temples, and synagogs are often as intolerant as family. (not always) If our foundations are crumbling who is responsible for our moral transformation?
“But like a drunk man babbling, almost mad, he lay among his mysteries and desired only this gold crumb he already had.” Rilke
Did I mention I love the fall? If I want my kids to know the blessing of family, to know this pearl of great price, then I must strengthen my limbs so I can support them when we disagree, question our faith, move to a new land, change our masks, or become disoriented. I have my own missteps to forgive and forget. What I want to see reflected in the world starts at my table, at my harvest, in my heart. It is time to take personal responsibility and prune back our fear and distaste for one another, graft a new branch onto the old vine, diversify, redeem, grow. I’ll be making soup, reading, writing long letters, and irrelevant blogs. Care to join me?
Leave a thought or two in the comments.
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“…In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work … For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-RD.” -Leviticus 16:29-30