For a sure reminder of the nature of impermanence, you can’t beat Mother Nature. At this time of year the cooler air and vivid blue skies beckon us to play amid the vivid reds, yellows, rusts and oranges of the changing leaves. Underlying the color show is a tremendous transition. As the shortened daylight hours and freezing temperatures of winter approach, the trees have begun the complicated process of shutting down for the season. Leaves stop producing the food they’ve been providing during the spring and summer months. This causes the chlorophyll that produces their usual green color to break down, revealing the underlying pigments.
What we see as colors changing, then, is actually a revelation of colors that were always there – we just couldn’t see them. The tree itself moves into conservation mode by shedding any tissue that cannot survive the cold. In a blink of an eye, the colors are gone and so are the leaves.
Once fallen, the leaves continue to evolve. Even as they decompose, they continue to nourish and support the earth, providing nutrients to the soil and absorbing rainfall. (I’m no scientist, so if you want to learn more about the changing nature of leaves look here.
How does understanding the nature of the color change help us to get to work on time, pay our bills, love our partners, enjoy our lives? By reminding us that what we have is here and now – this wholly imperfect, wholly wonderful day. That everything will be new again tomorrow–not necessarily better or worse, just different. And by helping us to understand that we do not always see the bigger picture, but that we are part of one. Sometimes, things are percolating beneath the surface and only when conditions are right will we see them.
On that note, enjoy this real, beautiful day!