It’s autumn–my favorite time of year. Growing up in South Texas, we had two seasons: Hot & Humid, and Hotter & More Humid. Until I moved to Colorado seven years ago, I never had the opportunity to witness the quarterly transition from season to season to season. Because my husband is from Maryland, I did get to see the autumn leaves in all their glorious color–but I never had the chance to experience the transition, which to me, makes the change of seasons that much more special.
Autumn is my favorite time of year because the leaves take on colors that simply cannot be recreated by man. It’s not just the hues themselves, but the depth, the tone, and the richness that take my breath away. Around the corner from my house are my favorite trees in the neighborhood: two maples whose leaves turn color very early on. There’s a point during that process–when the outer leaves are a deep orangey-red while the inner ones are still a vibrant yellow–that they look as though they’re lit from within. It’s truly a sight to behold, and I watch with anticipation each year as the process begins anew.
This year, as I was once again celebrating the majesty of fall, it occurred to me that society often refers to the years associated with middle age (not my favorite term), as the “autumn” of our lives–and not in a good way. And, I wondered, WHY?
After all, isn’t life after 50–at least for many of us–even more vibrant and colorful than life in our 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s? Does it not take on a depth, a tone, and a richness that younger adulthood simply does not offer–and that we probably couldn’t truly appreciate, even if it did? Is it not a time for us to shed those things that have outlived their usefulness–and begin to reimagine, reinvent, and rejoice in what life can look and feel like going forward?
I say it is.
I must confess I never thought much about how I would feel about life after 50–until I turned 50. I had no expectations, no pre-conceived notions, no concerns or fears. Perhaps that’s why I have been so pleasantly surprised by how things have turned out. Like many others my age and older, I’m excited about what life has to offer–and grateful for the experiences (both good and not-so-good) that have brought me to where I am today.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not so naïve to believe that getting older will be all sunshine and roses. Like most Baby Boomers, I have not saved enough money for retirement and will almost certainly have to continue working longer than I’d like. And, I realize that with age comes loss–loss of loved ones, loss of friends, loss of some of the physical abilities I enjoyed when I was younger.
But numerous studies have shown that age also brings increased contentment, not to mention perspective, calm, wisdom, experience, and a greater appreciation for the little things–like the changing of the leaves each year. So, instead of lamenting the arrival of the autumn of our lives, I say we should embrace it!
As we continue down the path of transitioning from one season of life to another, may the colors of our autumn never fade–and with each passing year, may we continue to celebrate their majesty, just as we do the majesty of fall.
After all, it beats the alternative . . .