Fall feels like it’s fully arrived inside me as well as outside my window.
Autumn is a time of harvesting the fruits of the previous season, getting ready for winter and the dark season, and letting go of things that are ready to die.
Fall leaves are a great reminder of the cycles of the seasons. The leaves that were green just a month ago have turned brown, yellow and red. They are falling off the trees in droves. They remind me that just because it’s time to let go of something now doesn’t mean that it was useless or I never should have had it in the first place.
The dance of letting in and letting go continues constantly throughout life. Sometimes the cycle is as short as a breath – breathing in and breathing out. Sometimes the cycle is as long as an entire life – birth into this human body and death to leave it. In between the two are countless cycles within cycles as we learn to dance with intimacy. Do we keep someone – our children, spouse, partner, parent, lover, or friend – from touching us deeply? Do we keep love at arm’s length for fear of losing it? Or do we let them in? Do we open our hearts to the most vulnerable experiences of joy and love knowing that these, like everything in our cyclical lives, will pass?
Taking our cues from the trees, we can find comfort in the repetition of the cycles. We must let go of the old to allow it to compost and create space for new growth.
This is true in parenting as we let go of the ways of connecting that worked with our child in the previous season. As our children grow they let go of breastfeeding to make room for more independence. Comforting with a lap and snuggles without warm milk and suckling is a transition, a letting go. My younger daughter still wants a hug and a kiss before I leave her at our homeschool coop. My older daughter doesn’t want to be seen touching me by her friends. Where she used to want me with her constantly, she now says “See ya” from 5 feet away and turns around to talk to other kids.
Relationships grow and evolve, closeness ebbs and flows.
Our relationships to our children, ourselves, work, our homes, partners and friends all change over time. When we insist that they stay constant, we set ourselves and others up for disappointment and suffering. One of the challenges of being a parent is to both set good boundaries and allow our children the freedom to grow and evolve. Mindfulness, reflection, quiet time, parts work, and “being with what is” are all great tools to allow the cycles of nature to teach and hold us, in times of closeness and in times of separation.
Kassandra Brown is a coach based in Boulder, CO.