For the first time this season I've seen the colors of the Fall.
It wasn't for lack of signs flourishing around me, but for my own self induced blindness. For the past weeks there's been a growing sense of anxiety rising up within me. I've been hyper sensitive to the changes happening around me for I am terrified that any acknowledgement will make them real. That by acknowledging any changes I acknowledge the passing of time, something in which I have no control. So, I've done my best to silence the crunching of leaves beneath my feet. I've firmly kept my eyes fixed upon the lifeless unchanging gray pavement. I've placed my gaze on what's narrowly in needed sight, desperately clinging to the thoughts of the lusciously vibrant green life filled trees of the Summer.
Familiar Trepidation and Pressing On
Yes, I know the Fall is beautiful, and I remember being so deeply awestruck by the magnificence of seasons past. But, this Fall is different. The slightest detection of Fall to my senses makes the very breath that fills my lungs freeze in familiar trepidation. Tears unwillingly fill my eyes at moments and I hold my breath in hopes to keep the outpouring of deep-rooted fear and humbled gratitude from overcoming me in an uncontrollable war of emotion. I hold my breath in hopes I can hold onto it just for a moment longer, not willingly wanting it to escape my lips.
I press on hoping that tomorrow these relentless stirrings of emotion subside. But, they do not. They've only grown these past few weeks, manifesting themselves in every venture of my life. With every glimpse of Fall color amongst the trees and every breath of crisp autumn air that touches my lungs, I've further tried to bury my fears, desperation to truly live, and the ever-questioning doubts that threaten to consume me. I grow restless and uneasy as I fiercely try to hold life and time within my grip.
Changing Seasons and Sentiment
I wondered how long I could go on like this? How long could I deny the beauty of the world around me? Even though I knew what beauty I was missing, I still forbid to stop and look around. I forbid to open my eyes and ears, reassuring myself that it was better if I just ignored it. That somehow if I pretended it wasn't happening, it wouldn't and there would be no "Fall" and therefore "Winter." But, I saw and felt something this weekend that will live with me forever. I stood in front of a sea of people, both stranger, dear friend, and family. In them I saw not only my own pains reflected in their faces and tears, but also the beauty in which my life is built upon. For a few seconds it was as if the world stopped and in their eyes I could see all the trials, pains, and beauty that lived within each of their own lives. I saw that no matter the heartache, the difficulties, the fears, and the uncertainties of life we all are connected and bound together by a connection that transcends words. We are bound together by a relentless hope. I was reminded that none of us are alone in any venture of life: the good, the difficult, or the in-between. Seeing my own reflection in their tear filled eyes, I was forced to see my own pain and fear. Most of all, however, I was forced to see every beautiful breath that makes my life what it is.
Yes, Cystic Fibrosis made last year's Fall a difficult one and the Winter was something I don't want to begin to imagine again, but by trying to protect myself from those pains and memories I gain nothing. I only lose sight and feeling of the beauty that fills my life. It shuts out all the possibility of greatness that tomorrow holds. By intently staring at the pavement and avoiding the beauty of this very moment and season, I am doing that in which I fear most: missing out on life and not truly living.
Wide Eyed and Breathing Deep
Sometimes we are forced to open our eyes and realize the beauty that surrounds us no matter the season. The seasons are changing. I can't stop that. I can, however, embrace the unique goodness this very season offers. After all, this moment is all any of us are guaranteed. What's the use in ignoring its unique, unbridled, and nondiscriminatory beauty?
That next morning when I awoke after staring life's pains and hurts squarely in the face, I looked up at the changing trees and did not shudder when the crisp autumn air kissed my cheeks. Instead, I took a deep breath, opened my eyes, and was engulfed by such breath-giving beauty.