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Fall-ing for You

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The phenomena of "fall" and "falling" fascinate me and the way we engage with these phenomena loom large in our mental and physical health. And it is afterall autumn in the United States thus a perfect time to play with these words.

Fall-ing in love. In this crazy out of control trance, every cell of our being consumed with thoughts of the other that alternate with fear that it could all fall apart at any moment. Whether with a lover, a baby, or a new puppy, it's intense and wonderful. And despite its craziness or our age, most of us hope for yet another round with Cupid's arrow.

Fall-ing asleep. This delicious slide from awareness through a fluid state of here and not here into the void of near nothingness resets our nervous systems and hopefully ushers in seven to eight hours of restorative downtime. But to get there, once again we need to relinquish control. This letting go no doubt partially inspired the prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep... if I die before I wake." No one knows what will happen in that place. It requires supreme trust.

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Fall-ing down. The toddler falls. boom! And promptly gets up. Over and over she goes down until she masters balancing that ever-changing body in gravity. Despite the low risk due to a child's low center of gravity and resilient bones, adults seek to provide a safe greenhouse environment. Yet to learn to walk, fall they must. Unless you are into parkour or skateboarding, you have probably not fallen much lately. Interestingly, though, we do need to lose equilibrium to keep it. Ruthy Alon, creator of Bones for Life, says, "Your balance is only as good as your willingness to risk it." To hone balance through a lifetime, we need challenges that provide just enough risk. That's where classes such as Bones for Life or Tai Chi come in. Safe falling allows us to rise with confidence and new skill.

Fall-ing apart. None of us will escape this mental misery in our lifetime. Whatever our humpty-dumpty moment, it is brutal. Left in pieces, one gradual learns how to somehow reassemble and become functional and eventually whole. Like all of the previous variants of falling, the process of letting go and once again rising, often brings us to a higher state of resiliency.

Fall-ing the season. We typically think of fall as a noun, the season when the air becomes musty and dry and the days shorten. I propose fall could be less a noun and more a verb. To feel life withdrawing a bit as the year gradually comes to an end is fall-ing. To miss fall is to miss fall-ing. Time outdoors noticing the changes in the landscape is so important. Less available light affects us, and to be aware of that effect is valuable. On the farm where I was raised, we knew fall was the last chance to harvest and store up for winter.

Nature's colors are a major gift of the season. Each tree, each leaf has a unique expression of fall-ing. During October some years ago, while out for a walk at a bed and breakfast, I met two men with their hands full of leaves. These successful middle-aged doctors were entranced with colors and shapes. Curiosity arose as each leaf was preciously brought forward to be admired. My tidbits of tree knowledge were hung on as quite special. It must have been a treat for them to be with each other and nature on a rare day off. Later I heard their wives making fun of them for being so childlike. What a pity, because we all need the wonder that fall brings us. And just as much, we need to prepare for the long sleep of winter where we do not really know what lies ahead. By falling, we can prepare, we can let go, we can rest and wait for the next phase.

And this brings us back to falling in love. I rather fall in love with Mother Nature as I experience these big showy seasonal changes. And it often feels to me like she falls for me too. Is she fall-ing for you?