Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Starting Over Again on the Autumnal Equinox

Many of my friends know that I like to start a new life on the first day of each month. A new commitment to fitness! To frugality! To astonishing work productivity! To using my leisure time to read heaps of wonderful books! The new life usually peters out after a few days, but I truly think I owe everything I've ever achieved to those few days of each month's glorious new life.

I'm in need of a new life right now, but it's hard for me to start one on some random day, despite familiar sayings that remind us that EVERY day can be "the first day of the rest of your life." But today is the autumnal equinox, which is a PERFECT day to start a new life. Autumn has always been my favorite season; perhaps it's yours, too. I adore the energy of back-to-school (even if back-to-school was so much less energizing this year, thanks to the pandemic). I envy Jewish friends who get to celebrate the start of a new calendar year with Rosh Hashanah in September. I welcome the briskness of cool mornings, so excellent for equally brisk walks.

But if autumn can feel like the season of new purpose, it's also the season of harvesting the fruits of spring's planting and summer's cultivation, and the season of preparation for winter's bare trees and blustery skies. I've recently seen quoted the sentiment that with its brilliant foliage, "Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go." 

I'm in the processing of harvesting the fruits of spring's blissful writing of my first verse novel, which is now in copy-editing at my publisher, Holiday House, headed for fall 2021 publication. I'm launching my hour-a-day-of bliss on writing a second verse novel. My writing group has read the first twenty pages of the new project, and so far they like it even better than the last one, which early readers have declared to be my best book ever. So hooray for both of these things!

But I'm also letting go of a lot of hopes for how this year was going to turn out. It's been one of the hardest years of my personal/family life, and I'm now facing all the ways in which not only the coming years, but decades, will not be what I dreamed of for my loved ones, and so for me. And don't get me started on THE WORLD!!! I have yet to find a single person who thinks 2020 has been a good year for the world. But it's the year we've been given. As Tolkien wrote:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

This is the time that has been given us.

So let us welcome autumn, which is, according to Keats, "the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness." It's the season of purpose, as I'm declaring it to be for me today, but also the season of harvest (sweet and bitter), and above all, the season of learning to let go. 

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