“In the end only three things matter: How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you”Buddha
My daughter and I took a walk at the park and we marveled at the radiance and gloriousness of the changing colors of the leaves. She exclaimed, “mommy, it is SO beautiful”, as she pointed at each tree that charmed us. I debated whether I should disrupt her joy to let her know that what we were marveling at was death. Yes, the changing colors of the leaves are a sort of death; a letting go, a release. Being the mother that I am, never wanting to shield her from the most important truths of life, I said, “Baby those leaves are dying. It is the only way the trees can survive the winter”. She replied with a slow and somber, “Ohhhh”. I said, “But see, even death can be beautiful”.
“There is beauty to be found in the changing of the earth’s seasons, and an inner grace in honoring the cycles of life”Jack Kornfield
Western society shuns death. We’ve accepted that death should be eluded and avoided at all costs. We fear death because of the uncertainty of what comes afterward. No matter what one’s belief system is, no one can be sure. And even if we are sure, do we really want to experience what’s next, forever leaving what was?
“Everybody wants to go to heaven. Nobody wants to die”Joe Louis
“This place is only a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief”Rumi
During the fall, trees release their leaves to survive winter. In a way, trees are actively “pushing” their leaves off, allowing them to die. Photosynthesis requires a lot of energy and water, and during winter there is simply not enough of either to sustain foliage. During winter, trees go through a process similar to hibernation called dormancy. Everything within trees slows down so they can conserve energy. This is what keeps them alive during winter and allows them to get ready for the Spring season. To survive, they let their leaves die.
“Love is a kind of survival”
The trees show us the beauty of letting things go for our own survival. More than that, the trees show us how beautiful this can be. We don’t have to go into our next season or cycle kicking and screaming. We can release people, relationships, jobs, friendships, and cities with the same grace and striking beauty trees release their leaves. We can let the thought patterns, mindsets, and habits die that will hinder our survival with the same dignified brilliance and splendor that tress let their leave die.
Death can be beautiful and freeing. It can welcome a much-needed transition and even a survival. Some things you have to let go of or it will kill you. If the trees did not let their leaves die, they wouldn’t survive the winter season. And we all know that if you don’t survive winter, there will be no spring.
There are many things that we are holding onto that we simply need to let die. Look to the trees and let that death be glorious and grand!