Autumn is the season of slowing down, and gathering in.
It’s the time of bidding ‘goodbye’ to the swallows, the roses, the long balmy evenings, and the mornings when sunlight pours through the curtains long before it’s time to get up. No wonder it is the season which has long been associated with melancholy. Not the biting, bleak sadness of a wintery depression. More of a gentle, tugging at the heart strings. A time when, as the saying goes, ‘the veil is thin’ between the place of plenty, abundance and life, and the place of dying back, of parting, of poignant sorrow.
In the manic cultures that have been created by the ‘developed’ world’s technological advances and comfortable, consumerist life-styles, many of us have fallen out of relationship with the ancient cycles of seasons, and the activites and emotions that traditionally accompany them. In a society that can have light, heat, entertainment and all manner of foods, at any time of day or night, whatever the season, we are often not used to try tuning into our natural environment – to feel that the temperature, the sky-scapes, the quality of light, the subtle scents on the air, the colours of trees, the sorts of fruit and vegetables that are ripe and seasonal, are all giving us clues as to what makes a good fit between a) what we are doing and feeling, and b) how our environment is.
In profound ways, Autumn is not a time for expansion and growth and zingy-ness. It is a time to have gathered in the harvest, to retreat behind closed doors, build up a fire, and make sure all the supplies are laid in and that we can be snug – in short, a time to get ourselves ready for the natural deprivations and hardships of the winter that is coming. Small wonder that many of us feel a little droop in our spirits at this time of year.
In a manic culture, of course, such a response tends to be anathema to the general outlook. We are each expected to be firing on all cylinders, at all times. “Achieve!… Strive!… Move forward!…Expand!….Why are you standing still?” are the communications we get from the mechanistic, goal-driven Captains of Industry and Commerce. “Depressed? Take a few days off work, see an EAP counsellor for some CBT, get some antidepressants from your GP, and we’ll have you back at your computer-coalface in no time.” We are made to feel that there is something wrong with us when we feel low in mood or become melancholy at this time of year.
But what if, in fact, it might be profoundly right and natural that our psyches and our bodies seem to resonate with and reflect back something of what we feel all around us in Autumn, as we see the leaves falling, feel the rain pattering down, and watch the darkness claim more of our mornings and evenings?
Goodbye, Summer. We miss you. Until next year….
Sarah Van Gogh
Photo credit: Frank Luca on Unsplash