The change happened so fast I barely had time to notice. One week I was taking refuge in the air conditioning to escape the 99-degree weather. The next, I was walking through snow in the high country.
Weather changes quickly (and frequently) in Colorado, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. But as I hiked in the mountains this past weekend, it hit me: fall had officially arrived. I’m a summer kind of guy, so this realization didn’t exactly thrill me.
Many people love fall, but not me. It signifies the onslaught of shorter days, cooler temperatures and less vacation. Fall and winter usually depress me, so the change in seasons felt heavy and restrictive. On top of it all, I knew there was nothing I could do about it.
Change is constant; we know that. Nothing ever stays the same. Ever. So if change is constant in the universe, why do we resist it?
I pondered this question on my hike, feeling my mood darken like the clouds above me. My thoughts became obsessed with all the things I wanted to get done before the end of summer and the list grew longer with each step.
In a trance, I walked up the hillside above the house, not noticing the constantly changing weather. There were periods of sunshine, rain, and some light snow. I didn’t notice the green grass or yellow wildflowers still in bloom. Change was happening all around me yet I was focused solely on one thing: nature was forcing me into something I didn’t want.
Realizing what I was doing, or more appropriately realizing what I was thinking, I searched for something—anything—that would make me feel better. I surveyed the landscape for something soothing and I found it just a few feet away.
Despite being a summer kinda guy, there is one thing I love about fall: the changing leaves. There are some pretty spectacular places on this earth to watch fall foliage changes but fall in the Colorado high country is an experience that stays with you your entire life.
During a “good” season, the Colorado Rockies gradually transform from a sea of green to a kaleidoscope of rich oranges, browns and yellows. Unlike the flora of the east coast, our colorful change comes from the Aspen tree, one of the most prevalent trees in the high country. While the colors vary in intensity year to year, it’s always fun to see what kind of “natural painting” you can catch with your eyes and camera.
Aspens usually transform from green, to orange to yellow before starting their winter hibernation. On occasion, you’ll find pockets of red and brown leaves and those are my favorite. Amid hunters searching for Elk and Deer, I set out on foot in search of ruby red leaves to photograph.
Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection of photographs of red Aspen leaves and I never tire of seeing them. So on this particularly gloomy day when I found myself getting depressed over the changing seasons, I was delighted when one small four-foot Aspen caught my eye.
Standing apart from its white bark were branches filled with small leaves of browns, deep reds and a few hints of green thrown in for good measure. The Aspens are referred to locally as Quaking Aspen because in a gentle breeze, their leaves shimmer and shake in the wind, almost like the tree is quaking in its roots. The red leaves seemed to be waiving at me.
As I stopped to take as many close-up photos as I could, one particular leaf stood out. It was caught somewhere between death and life and was divided equally between green and red. It was in the midst of full-blown change brought about by the changing seasons.
The discovery lifted my spirits. Although the leaves in my neck of the woods (excuse the expression) are just now starting to turn, the discovery piqued my interest and caused me to become hypersensitive to any other exotic leaf I could find. And low-and-behold, I found many more interesting photographic subjects on my way back to the house.
The entire experience felt metaphoric. Amidst all of this change: the changing seasons, changing temperatures, and even the change in clothing required to go for a walk, I found something that lifted my spirits ever so slightly. It lessened my depression over winter’s approach and helped me realize that the best thing to do with change is to look for any beautiful aspect you can find.
The Law of Constant Change is designed to help us evolve and grow. Change drives the universe, providing fresh experiences and insights that point us toward our greatest development. Knowing that doesn’t always help us feel better about change so at times it takes a purposeful shift in perspective to understand and accept what change brings.
It helps to look for the beautiful things in change.
Personally, looking for beautiful leaves helped ease the transition into fall and winter. A friend recently diagnosed with cancer told me she’s focused on recognizing every positive thing said to her—about anything. Another friend found beauty in change after discovering a new love for painting. A coworker recognized the beauty of the sunrise when faced with a shift change.
When you’re faced with change, make a conscious effort to look for something beautiful in it. The conscious search alone will help shift your attention away from the change itself and reframe the experience into something more soothing. It’s another way to Honor Your Spirit by allowing change and appreciating it at the same time.