The most conflicted season of the year, autumn, a.k.a. fall, begins today in my hemisphere. Although you wouldn’t know it since much of North America is currently experiencing record highs and record lows. But then, it’s the conflicted season. Eventually it will come to its senses and remember it’s not summer, it’s not winter, it’s…
Wait, what is it again? Americans call it fall because, well, things fall. A very realistic term, considering that the universally celebrated symbols of the season—those exquisite leaves—last about ten minutes before they fall to the ground. It’s the season of the fleeting, the unattainable. What we want are trees aglow with red leaves, what we get are yards full of dead leaves. Red leaves and dead leaves. There’s something so human about that.
On the other hand, the lovely French-Latinate word autumn, meaning “mature,” suggests a pretentious French gentlemen strutting his stuff, only to be tripped by a younger (probably American) fellow, and falling to the ground. What he wants is not what he gets. He’s mature, after all. His end is near. In fact…
In most of the world’s languages the name of the season means harvest or ending. In the ancient Hebrew calendar it’s the season of harvest or “ingathering,” but it’s also the start of a new year (it is for Muslims, too). Do you see the spiritual longing there? They want both.
Don’t we all? We want to retain the old and claim the new. But we can’t. We have to let go of what was to lay hold of what will be.
Ah, humans. They want it all. And who can fault ‘em? They’re made that way.
Welcome to falltumn.