Falling into the Present

 
 

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.                                                                           – Ecclesiastes 3 and Pete Seeger

Fall is pressing upon us. it is a season of dropping off and falling away, shedding and letting go.I ponder this strata of desquamation. I look out my kitchen window and watch as golden curled leaves rain down bereft of even a wind puff, surrendering freely. The garden is withering to shades of drabness. Stalks shrivel and droop, giving themselves up to a job well done.

No matter our casualness, we feel the shift. 

A reminder that nothing lasts forever.
 
 

Autumn is  a time for moulting, for emptying.

It’s not a giving up, resignation, or lowering your standards, but a surrender to what is.

It’s a time when we look at the garden inside ourselves and tear or thin out everything that is not worthy of taking space in our heart.

It’s a time where we need to shuck off our old skins, drop them and walk away until they are unrecognizable.
 

 

There is a story told in Africa and India about how to catch a monkey. First they hollow out one end of a coconut and drop in a banana. Before long a monkey comes by, sees the banana, reaches his hand into the coconut, and grabs it. The monkey then discovers that he can’t get his hand out while holding onto the banana. The natives then pull a string attached to the other end of the coconut and capture the monkey.

Motivational speakers often use this story to inspire people to “let go” of their old perceptions, habits and thoughts, since in truth, the monkey was never trapped.

All the monkey had to do was to let go of the banana.
 

 

And the cell phone.

One of the biggest sources of our malcontent is not being able to let go. Instead, we hang onto things, jobs, relationships, and 70’s caftans because things don’t look as we want them to.  
 

 

Sometimes we can be like the hermit crab. There comes a day when the crab outgrows its shell. Then comes the risky moment called the moult when the crab is in between shells. Now the crab has two choices. One, to find a new shell or two, slip back into its old one because the new one is uncomfortable.
 

 

It really is about letting go of the out-lived – the parts that you loved and the parts that were painful, hopefully turning chaos into cadence.

Trying to keep everything the same is like trying to tell the leaves not to fall from the trees in autumn. 

I’m not necessarily thinking of old shoes, but simple things like bitterness, resentment, and the poison of unforgiveness.

Letting go is essential. But it’s not always easy.

Letting go takes work and requires us to do some serious introspection about what’s “True”, and what we’re actually attached to. There is a difference between the facts of a person and the truth of them. This something that has baffled scientists to no end.

However arduous it might be, it’s often a good idea to be honest with oneself. You do not want to sit by people at dinner that will not admit this.
 

Life never promised to keep us safe. It wasn’t designed that way and they don’t hand out manuals for the tough stuff.Life, however, does continue to hand us opportunities to become who we really are, to understand ourselves on a deeper level, and to experience the full breadth of human emotion.

 

 

Maybe the most important way to get the most out of life is the hard-earned mastery of giving yourself up to it.

Maybe the only way to get the most out of life is to simply feel what it is to be alive.

Maybe when we become more and more aware, and more and more still, is when we really can know what we want.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, adopt a tree.

Watch rigorously for one year. 
 

And the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.                                                                                        – T.S. Eliot  

Things come and go, nothing stays the same, and we can’t control most of the things we’d like to. 
Everything we love – places, possessions, and people – can, and very likely will, be eventually taken from us.Possibly the greatest gift we can give someone is that of detachment.

Attachment, even if we think it is selfless, lays some burden on the other person. When we think we are giving, we may actually be at the very least, asking for attention – another paradox of life. When we think we have nothing, there is always something. When something is taken away, there is always some permanence to be grateful for – friends, family, life-teachers, The Maldives, and dust mites.

What they leave in our soul is the only permanence we’ll ever know.

Except for dust mites. They stay under our couch.
 

 

Grace comes, but you don’t get to say when or how. Grace can be a wound that opens the beauty in us, a wound that lets light in through the heart-cracks. It’s the beauty of imperfection, of things that show their age and use. 

Scratches. Chips. Wrinkles.

In that sense, it’s just as important to continue defining who you are, as to continue eliminating who you are not.
 

 

Our homes have a memorializing function, and what they are helping us to remember is, strangely enough, ourselves.

Our home should be an honest reflection of ourselves that include family photos, items from our travels, and objects that have meaning for us. Because we all want such different things, we will all be pulled towards very different kinds of objects.

 

The key is to let go of the extraneous, the worn, the out-dated, the redundant, and the meaningless, with rapturous rigour and devotion.

Do you need six throw pillows on your sofa, or do 3 create just as much of an impact?

Do you need your collection of magazines from the past 7 years, or do 4 coffee table books achieve the same goal?

Do you really need 22 black teeshirts, or will 6 do?

Beer glasses? Spatulas? Jars of copper polish?

 

Today, make a commitment to drop a banana.

There has never been a more selfless selfish act. 

 

 

In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver  

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillarsof light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Comments

  1. Very inspiring, Karyn.
    Teeya

  2. Karyn,
    Your words are truly inspirational and have many times affected me greatly..thank you!
    Olga Knight

  3. Marlene G. says:

    Thank you for the message of your piece. I needed to hear that today.

    Marlene

  4. Sandra E. says:

    Beautiful writing! Good job. Sandra

  5. So good Karyn – so true -just let go! Nancy

  6. Margaret C. says:

    Hello Karyn,

    What a wonderful piece you have written! I love the way you blend words and images and can wax philosophical, analytical, dreamitcal, and always end up bringing it home. To where it all began and all ends.

    I fancy adopting a tree. Steven and I just got back from two glorious weeks in Quebec, and once again I realized how mad I am about trees and how wisdom and beauty they contain.

    Anyway, heartfelt thanks for all the thought- and soul-provoking ideas you share with us.

    Cheers,

    Margaret C.

  7. W0W!!
    I have a lot to work on. This was very Oprahish. Thanks E