During a walk on a local trail one bright, warm day in October, it struck me just how spectacular the transition is from summer to fall. The colours on the trees were amazing and, as I watched the leaves fall, I started to think differently about the trees losing their leaves and becoming bare. In the past, I have felt a sense of sadness that the trees were losing their vibrancy and energy, marking the end of those glorious, long summer days.
However, on this day I found a new perspective. I saw just how rich each leaf colour was, how gracefully each one danced and floated to the floor. The more I focussed, the more I noticed the intricate leaf shapes and enjoyed the satisfying noise they made underfoot as I continued my walk. My mind considered that these leaves have been on the trees for many months up to this point, providing food, pleasure, shade and shelter. These bright rich fall colours have always existed; it’s just that only now are they revealed in all their glory, as the chlorophyll disappears.
I used this perspective on the changing seasons to think differently about ringing the changes in my own life. As we age (or watch loved ones age), it’s understandable to be concerned and negative about the changes that are inevitable — more grey hairs and wrinkles; new aches and pains; a slower pace as our energy levels shift gears. It’s easy to feel loss, or regret for something that has ended. What if, though, we were to consider the “fall years” as a time of beauty and grace; a time to reveal a new “us,” rich from past experience, learning and wisdom. Equally beautiful, as in earlier years; yes, changed on the outside but still the same person we have always been at our core. A time to acknowledge and feel gratitude for all we have experienced and achieved so far, for all that we have been and will continue to be.
This renewed perspective took me by surprise on my walk; it seemed to spring, uninvited, from my unconscious mind as I idled along the trail, enjoying the moment. Today I am still pondering how it might help me come to terms with ringing any of the changes that I experience in my own life and those in my family. It’s almost as if an attitude of playful curiosity has started to replace the sense of sadness, and loss, that I felt previously about change, from which there is no going back. I know that takes time and effort… but it feels good to consider moving on to a future that might be even richer and more colourful than what has gone before.
Sometimes it’s helpful to acknowledge that while change can mean the end of “normal” as we know it now, it can also be considered a different kind of “normal” — not necessarily always better, or worse; just different.
If we can learn to accept any change that we have no control over, then we can enjoy more peace of mind and endure less stress, which can only be a good thing, in our professional and personal lives.
Hazel Morley is principal of Think Smart: Training and Coaching with Change in Mind. She can be contacted at email@example.com.