Presence vs. Presents

photo credit: jDevaun.Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: jDevaun.Photography via photopin cc

In a Walmart commercial I saw today, Anthony Anderson proudly exclaims, “the holiday season starts right now!”

It’s November 3rd.

And that’s not the only holiday commercial I’ve seen today. In the past hour, I’ve counted 5. The only reason I think the number was that low is because tomorrow is election day and the airwaves are being dominated by political pleas. (I won’t miss those, either.)

Earlier this afternoon, I went out to get a few things that I need for a trip I’m taking this week. The pharmacy was already decked out in red and green, and the Christmas cards were featured in a prominent display at the grocery store. My sister works in a department store, and she tells me that the tree went up in September.

It’s November 3rd. This just isn’t right.

Maybe it sounds like I don’t like the winter holidays, but that’s not true. I love them. I just prefer them to stay in December. The holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier every year. To me, that illustrates a fundamental problem with society: we seem to have an inability to be in the present moment. We always have to sprint ahead to something else.

Why are we running? What are we running from?

Perhaps it is that the holiday festivities feel like a vacation from the norm.

So why are we living lives that we need to take breaks from? What if we could incorporate elements of rest into our daily or weekly lives?

We need to examine the way we live. If we are looking for calm, for relaxation, for peace of mind, we won’t find it somewhere out there in the future. But, we can have it now, if we allow ourselves a moment of pause.

Take some time to acknowledge and appreciate the fall. We still have a whole month of it left.

Love and light,

Mary

Fall Challenge

Fall in Central Park, 2009
Fall in Central Park, 2009

Every year, I rejoice when summer begins and mourn when it ends. While others are unleashing their sweaters and boots and pumpkin spice lattes, I try to prolong summer’s carefree gaiety by sipping on iced tea and walking around barefoot until it finally becomes too cold to do so comfortably. But as is inevitable, I have finally had to don my warm socks and change my tea from iced to hot. The breeze is cool and the trees are erupting in fiery brilliance. I can’t deny it anymore- fall is here.

I’ve decided that instead of lamenting the change of seasons, I’ll try to embrace it. I’ve challenged myself to come up with a list of things that I appreciate about the fall:

  • Fall is perhaps the only time I am able to appreciate a gray sky. There’s just something about the contrast between the dreary clouds and the bright foliage that I find to be poetically beautiful. It’s a natural reminder of how our joyful days and our difficult ones contrast each other in order to create beauty in our lives.
  • Fall presents us with a valuable reminder to be in the present. As I go about my day, I’ll often notice a strikingly beautiful tree or scene. I’ll say to myself, “Wow, I’ll have to stop and take a picture the next time I pass by here.” But naturally,  when I come back, even if it is just a day or two later, the tree doesn’t look the same and the lighting is all wrong. The moment is gone, and I’ve missed my chance to take an artistic photograph.
  • Fall shows us that it is okay to adapt and let go of that which no longer serves us. We watch as the trees drop their leaves so that they may take care of themselves and survive throughout the harsh winter. Not only is that okay, it’s beautiful.
  • At Thanksgiving, we remember the importance of gratitude as we take a moment to celebrate and appreciate the blessings that we often take for granted. Science shows us that people who regularly practice gratitude are happier.
  • Fall teaches us impermanence by reminding us that change is inevitable.

What do you love about the fall? What else can we learn from the changing of the seasons?

Suggested listening: Autumn Leaves – Ed Sheeran and Autumn Leaves – Eric Clapton

Mary