Thursday, December 15, 2005

Gone 'till November

There can be gems in the mud, so journal writing should not be taken lightly.

I thought I would like Autumn. I think I spend most of the year thinking about the arrival of the fall. September, and the world seems to renew itself. This must be a leftover sensation from childhood when we headed back to school in autumn. Always the start of something new. The season also meant there would be a new line-up of shows on television.

What spring is to most people, autumn has been for me -- at least the month of September. A sign of hope; a sign of renewal. A sign of a second chance, of starting over.

Then there is November. By November I am no longer reminded of a young boy headed back to school; instead I think of an aging man, rushing to make a final push in his life before he's too old for it to matter. Winter fast approaches on his heels.

Autumn. Always a promise in spring, but by September I realize I'm not yet ready for it. And by November I feel as though another year has passed me by. Where did it go? Where did all the promised and hoped for dreams and accomplishments go?

It doesn't matter where I am in Autumn -- if I am in Pennsylvania or New York or Ohio, it smells like burning wood. Even in the city, the air smells of burning wood. Maybe its a smell that rotting autumn leaves lend to the air. A crisp smell. A somewhat comforting smell. Almost always associated with hot chocolate, football games, apple cider, pumpkin pie...autumn.

It begins by signaling return: return to old friends -- or new. Return to work. Return to school. A promise of continuity and renewal. But by the end of the season a mild depression sets in -- the passing of time, life slipping through your fingers -- your destiny beyond your control.

By October it is too late to squeeze out the last of summer. November is particularly harsh and barren -- a harsh reality. Dead looking brown tree branches against a gray sky. An image not even softened by the white snows of December or January.

November is reality. November is death.

If poets think that December, January and February are old age, they are wrong. November is death. I guess we die at middle age.

The Chinese see renewal in the dead of winter -- in January or February. We see it too. That's really where the rebirth begins; in the dead of winter. Once we get past the Winter solstice we begin a new cycle of renewal.

The Christmas holiday marks the beginning of our own rebirth. New Years follows fast on its heels to make it official. For many, the Christmas-New Year season is the most depressing of all. More suicides in the West than at any other time of year. Those of us who have lost most of their family are reminded that we are ultimately alone.

But that's not the only way to look at it. Christmas-New Years is yet another time of renewal. Another rebirth. Another second chance.

Spring is also seen as a time of re-birth and second chances.

Turns out there are many second chances and periods of renewal throughout the year. That's what change is all about.

How do I reconcile myself with autumn, though? How do I reconcile myself with the harshness that November brings. The drab gray -- the November death?

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