This past December, I began paying more attention to the changing seasons by celebrating the equinoxes and solstices. Monday, September 23rd 2019 is the fall equinox in the northern hemisphere and the official beginning of fall.
What fall can teach us…
Here are some of my favourite autumn themes which came up in my googling research: balance (between night and day), impending darkness, change and transformation (and how foliage reminds us of the beauty, alongside the death, of transitions), end of things and new beginnings, a time of healing & rejuvenation, preparation for the winter, gratitude for all we’ve received this past year, sharing the abundance with others and remembering we need each other, a time to clear the clutter and go within for clarity.
Two other things stood out for me this year, namely:
- fall is the best season for a new perspective and
- it’s a time to intentionally slow down.
I write to you from Bucharest, Romania. I’ve spent the last 3 weeks in Canada, first touring around Ontario with my husband’s band, then flying to NYC for an event and to see friends, before returning to Toronto to catch up with my family and friends, and now here in Romania for my uncle’s wedding (to a Finn!)… all while working to prepare for this fall’s session of Finnish Through New Eyes and a few others projects.
This is probably more action than I’ve experienced in years, so the impulse to intentionally slow down has been huge. In addition, a bounty of new perspectives have graced me throughout my travels.
Insight from the summer
Among these perspectives, it’s become abundantly clear to me that we are different people in different places.
When we change our environments, we change a lot. I observed different versions of myself on the road, in Toronto, New York, and Bucharest from who I thought I was in Helsinki.
In each situation, I adapted to different ways of speaking, thinking and interacting with others. I made different choices, surprised myself, returned to places where things appeared different than before.
I am different than I remember; I’m further along than I would’ve thought – yet I’m also the same.
I feel fluid, like my sense of self is ever changing.
If I’m not who I thought I was, if I am all of these versions, then can I also be none of them? Belonging is no longer a fixed point, but a state of being in between, in flux, in transition.
While living at this pace was challenging, I was able to observe myself speeding up, which allowed me to see how I run with constant change. (While really savouring the odd home-cooked meal and early bedtime, when possible.) My eyes were opened to my resourcefulness and ability to adapt beyond what I’d considered possible, along with the challenges that started to demand my attention as things progressed. This is a path I wish to keep exploring and pushing the boundaries of: my ability to adapt.
Once again, I’ll return to Helsinki humbled, and slightly different than when I left.
What follows in the fall
I head into the fall with new eyes, for myself and my surroundings, with new insights about my capabilities.
What follows is a time to conserve energy and focus on what’s really important.
Speeding up and slowing down is an ebb and flow. We cannot function is we are always speeding up, just like we may never know what we’re capable of if we don’t. We cannot grow if we’re always standing still, but we may never be able to hear the whispers of our soul if we don’t slow down and turn within for answers.
How awe-some that the interplay between fast and slow is worked into our planet’s seasons by design?
These themes give me a lens through which I can view my own well-being. Living abroad gives me great opportunities to challenge myself in ways I’d never dreamed had I stayed put. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to travel this way, connect with people in different places and explore these themes in depth – it truely is a privilege I can’t quite put into words.
For these opportunities, I also need to consider the cognitive challenges at hand: how can I best care for myself while doing all of this? For everything I choose to do, there are things I need to say no to.
My research tells me fall is about new beginnings, but not the doing kind. This is an exciting time to pause, to intentionally slow down, without the need to know what comes next. Just like the soil needs rest before the seeds are planted, so too, do we need to clear our minds before dreaming new dreams.
What does fall mean to you?
Are there specific fall themes which stand out for you this fall 2019?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!