On the playground where I work, there is a tree in bright orange leaf right now. I’ve never noticed the tree before, but this week its putting on a show and refuses to not be noticed. In a few more weeks, it will be a skeleton of itself, bare and hunkered down for winter. It leaves me thinking about how quickly and elegantly nature changes. The trees pay attention to the length of the day by registering the amount of sunlight falling on their leaves. Once the days begin to shorten, the leaves pull in their chlorophyll, revealing the brilliant oranges and yellows that have been a part of the leaf all along. Knowing the leaf won’t survive the winter, the tree pulls back to protect itself, but not without its own unique display of beauty. It makes me wonder what we can learn from the trees.
How do you approach change in your life? If you are like me, do you sometimes resist or ignore the natural cycles in your life until you find yourself in the dead of winter wearing shorts and a tank top? You look up and say “Hey! What happened?” By that point, you have frostbite and often lose more than you would have by shedding your “leaves” at the appropriate time and strengthening yourself for the changes ahead. You’re much more vulnerable when the change is thrust upon you.
Of course, there are events in life that seem to happen from out of the blue. But there’s another lesson the trees have to teach us: pay attention. You are more intuitive and wise than you think. Signs abound if you are only open to seeing them. And once you begin to notice them, you can start to make decisions about change in your life. You start to see it coming from farther away and you begin to accept it before your life reaches a critical mass and you’re forced into a change of last resort.
Take strength from the tree. Look up as it showers you in glorious color, preparing to take the long, solitary plunge into darkness. It knows the light will come again, so now it rests, pulling strength deep within. Soon, so soon, it will emerge from its winter cocoon with a burst of new growth and abundance.
You will too.