Unlike most New England residents who count the days until summer, autumn has always been my favorite season. It never hurt that my birthday is in October – another reason, in my younger days, to celebrate the season. However, I digress. Maybe it’s the crisp evening air contrasting with the hot summer days, or the sight of nature’s brightly painted leaves, plentiful pumpkins, and fluffy mums. The season is interwoven with the inviting smell of logs burning in a fireplace or outdoor fire pit, the taste of freshly picked apples or — better yet — the flavor of homemade apple pie! All of these signify a return to the comforting schedule of classes, related activities, and the beginning of a new academic year…a new normal, so to speak, in perhaps not so normal times.
Of course, each year is unique. As Dickens wrote in his classic, Tale of Two Cities, (consult the newest oracle, Google, if you didn’t have this on a summer reading list at some point during your high school career) “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Although Dickens was referring to the French Revolution, his theme of renewal and transformation is a classic example of every individual’s and every society’s ability to change and create something even better. Concerning one character, the author actually uses the phrase, “recalled to life”.
This, to me, is autumn. It holds the promise of renewal, hope, and a fair share of the unknown. New classes, new students, combined with established relationships with colleagues, alums, and industry. We all, once again, have an opportunity — perhaps through Dickens’ ideas of sacrifice, redemption, and justice to realize a new beginning. For example, as freshmen, we left behind high school triumphs and tribulations to start a new life in college – the opportunity to recreate ourselves.
This realization that our past is just that, past, as we reimagine our own new and more rewarding future may become more difficult as we continue our careers. Family obligations, work responsibilities, and course requirements all compete for our attention. However, it is important to continue our own personal renewal on an annual basis – and autumn is the perfect time to do so.
Consider any of the following, and then create your own list!
When was the last time you…
- Went to a sporting event that wasn’t “required” because you were watching your own family members participate in it? In other words, just to enjoy the spirit of the event itself.
- Called or wrote a note to someone, not for any special occasion, just to connect vs. “liking” their post on social media?
- Sent/brought flowers to someone? Again, for no special reason, just to let them know you were thinking of them.
- Volunteered to assist an organization? Pledged to walk for a cause (autumn is great walking weather), collected clothing or necessities for those in need, donated items from your closet to Savers or the Salvation Army, etc.
- Simply took a walk to enjoy all the season has to offer? NOTE — Dog optional, but can often provide welcome companionship and entertainment along the route!
- Decided to try a new fitness/wellness routine? Counting steps, yoga, Pilates, meditation.
- Completed a minor outdoor project? Painting some trim, washing planters before retiring them for the winter, pruning some perennials, etc.
- Watched a movie at an actual theater? Netflix is easy, but let’s face it, something like James Bond is just so much better on the big screen with buttered popcorn in hand, right?
- Baked some caloric goodies from scratch, using an actual recipe? Perhaps shared them with friends, neighbors.
- Read a book (not necessarily A Tale of Two Cities, but…), or bought a new magazine you’ve never considered reading before? Maybe you’ll find a new favorite author or a new hobby.
Of course, we all say we don’t have time for any of these activities, especially as November and December loom around the corner, with their own holiday festivities (all the more reason to reset prior to this new collection of obligations). Yet, each of these simple ideas can trigger a sense of accomplishment – a pleasant distraction, if you will – an autumn renewal of sorts. A sense that you too will feel “recalled to life.” To paraphrase a classic line from Madame Defarge in the aforementioned novel, “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done before.”
May we all enjoy the bountiful harvest of autumn renewal!