Lovely Golden Autumn

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Being an October born person, I’ve always been a fan of autumn. The sun in the summer is harsh, but there’s something very lovely, warm and soft about the autumn light. The blanching shades of fall foliage symbolise both the fading of a season and a renewal of sorts, the trees tell us how significant it is to let go of the old in order to embrace the new. Autumn is all about nature showing us how graceful it is to accept change and grow.

When I go out for my evening walk nowadays, I feel that there’s a touch of fall in the air and I see that the leaves are slowly turning yellow. The breeze outside is as lovely as the golden light in the evenings. It’s so beautiful to witness this season coming in, no wonder many poets chose to write about autumn, including William Shakespeare. Poets have often associated autumn with ripeness, maturity and adulthood. John Keats called autumn the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.’ Some autumnal poems will make you fall in love with this season, and surprisingly, also with the notion of getting old.

Though I haven’t tried to write a poem about this lovely season myself, I can share one that I really like. It’s written by Robert Louis Stevenson. I hope you’ll enjoy the poem and the lovely fall season. Happy reading!

Autumn Fires

Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
   And all up in the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
   See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over, 
   And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
   The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
   Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
   Fires in the fall! 

Nature and Well-being

A woman walking in forest
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“The natural world and its processes has much to teach us about the flexibility, creativity, and resilience that’s already within us, just waiting to unfurl.”Kelly Barron

Have you ever looked closely at those dense dark forests? There’s a lot we can learn from observing nature, specially plants. Lodgepoles and ferns dot landscapes and forests despite facing adversity from nature in the form of wildfires and lack of sunlight. They grow both in cold, wet winters and dry, hot summers. The wildfires help lodgepoles with their propagation strategy, it helps unlock the seeds in their hard cones, which otherwise would stay trapped inside. Ferns, no matter how small, make their existence felt in dense forests by availing every little spot available to grow. This small insignificant ancient plant “fern” grows everywhere among the large tall trees, including the barks of dead trees, hence populating and flourishing in the forest like no other species.

These plant species due to their resilience, claim to be the “real” kings of the forests where other tall trees hamper growth being dominant. Lodgepoles and ferns don’t just survive catastrophes. They thrive in their aftermath, says Kelly.

Endlessly inventive, unrelenting, and forever evolving, nature’s hallmark is resilience.”

According to Kelly, “Nature is more connected, collaborative, and communal than we realize. Survival of the fittest refers not to the competitive strength of a species but to a species’ “fitness” to adjust to its changing environment. We too can apply nature’s wisdom to improve our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Learning to adapt, collaborate, and renew ourselves will not only help us live more sustainably on earth, but also—like a towering lodgepole pine—flourish in the face of adversity.”

Many species face conflict when it comes to preying for food and mating, but it takes more energy to fight than adapt. Hence, these conflicts are short-lived. Nature can thrive only through cooperative relationships. A single wolf faces difficulty in bringing its prey down, but a pack of wolves works together so that everyone can have food. Similarly, many flowering plants build a relationship with fungi that helps colonize their roots. Due to this wood-wide-web which is an example of “underground connectivity network”, every plant and tree in the forest receives its share of nutrients.

As humans our primal need is that of connection, we die when we are alone. Covid-19 has been an epidemic of loneliness for us. It has reinforced the idea that humans crave togetherness, they are interconnected. The social distancing has affected our mental health adversely, because we are by nature social beings, we thrive when we socialize.

On the other hand, Covid-19 has also taught us how we have an innate ability to collaborate for mutual survival. Wearing masks, keeping distance, using sanitizers and getting vaccinated are forms of social solidarity that we are going to fight this together for our safety and survival. The give and take in nature exemplifies that we need to deepen friendships and create supportive networks.

Nature also teaches us to rest, renew and regenerate in order to grow and survive. Life is hard, but it persists like nature. Nature faces disasters, it breaks down, lets go, and allows the next generation to continue growth. We as humans have a hard time accepting change and loss in life. We do not see life-shattering events as divorce, death of a loved one, job loss and sickness as an opportunity to grow strong and renew ourselves. We tend to dwell on our past mistakes and mishaps. Kelly says that “by observing nature’s cycles, we can learn to accept the disruption and renewal that occurs in our lives. We can acknowledge the messy middle of transitions and the inevitable growth they foster.”

Catastrophes propel us towards a new level of growth, we struggle through transitions but nature shows us that it allows time for restoration. Alex Soojung remarks that “Rest is not work’s adversary, it’s work’s partner. They complement and complete each other.” Just like some animals hibernate, shed skin, trees lose their leaves, the sun rises and sets, we must acknowledge the wisdom of following activity with rest. We too can withstand the tumult of life, endure with hopefulness and renew ourselves.

Take a nature walk whenever you feel down, and you’ll feel a renewed sense of faith and purpose in life.

Scrawls of an Archaeophile, a Lover of Old Things and Places

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Jonathan Safran once remarked “Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on…It is strange how we hold on to pieces of the past while we wait for our futures…”

The human mind has this wonderful ability to think about its own thinking. In Psychology, they call it “metacognition” — becoming “aware of one’s awareness” or higher-order thinking skills.

Nowadays, I often find myself looking in the mirror trying to see those fine lines around my eyes. Time flies for sure and at this stage of my life, I find myself thinking more about my own thoughts, my “old” thoughts.

I would say it is quite interesting to try to understand one’s own pattern of thoughts and musings.

Catching myself gravitated towards old things and places, I reminisce some fine lines from Charles Lamb’s essay on “Antiquity” :

“Antiquity! thou wondrous charm, what art thou? that being nothing art everything? When thou wert, thou wert not antiquity – then thou wert nothing, but hadst a remoter antiquity, as thou calledst it, to look back to with blind veneration; thou thyself being to thyself flat, jejune, modern! What mystery lurks in this retroversion? or what half Januses are we, that cannot look forward with the same idolatry with which we for ever revert! The mighty future is as nothing, being everything! the past is everything, being nothing!”

Lamb knew what it felt like to be nostalgic! Nobody can put it more exquisitely in words than him.

You find a lot of people telling you not to live in the past, but Oh! the pleasure of taking that walk down the memory lane — nothing like it!

I would rather embrace my past, the old days, the old things and places that are now memories to be relished, I would never try to cut them out from my experience of this world. They made ME. They are pure gold!

I would rather be myself, my “evolved self” than pretend to be something I’m not. I won’t part with my old self, and still keep my new self. I think most of you would agree with me. You are what you are because of what you’ve seen and gone through.

Visiting museums, witnessing old architecture, and strolling through antique shops has somehow become an addiction to me. These places are the “nothing” and “everything” that my soul craves, I desire to take them in like a breath of old air, like a scent, that soothes me somewhere inside. Everything seems to be time-kissed after all these years!

A part of me surprisingly feels young again when I visit the school I once went to in my childhood, and the bazaars I used to shop in. A part of me also mourns, when I recall the people who are not there anymore.

As the winter nears its prime, I sit in my cozy lounge chair and read poetry .. I contemplate how life has been. As I sip warm tea from the mug, I peek from the window at the grey sky with a hazy sun, and once again get reminded how all things old and beautiful, are also shrouded by a mysterious haze which renders them a charm incomparable.

Time has callously ensnared a lot of beautiful things and places around me, or should I say, transformed them into something more lovely, more admirable by its sacred touch!

Maybe I should just greet the passing of time like an old friend…

Antiquity! thou wondrous charm, what art thou? that being nothing art everything?