What the Change of the Seasons Can Teach Us About Life

Buddha surrounded by autumn leaves, Kyoto Japan.
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Fall is a wonderful opportunity to take stock of your life. Learn how to give thanks and let go of the things that are holding you back during this season of balance and reflection.

I’m just as obsessed with fall as the next pumpkin-spice-loving, flannel-wearing, leaf-peeping person, but there’s more to the change of the seasons than a new wardrobe or decor for your home. The little things, such as a scented candle or basket of mums, evoke the season and fill us with joy. But sometimes, it’s good to step back and look at the big picture, too.

Every turn of the seasons can teach us something about life, but there’s something profound and a little bittersweet about autumn. For all its beauty (and tasty, tasty treats), this season has a lot to teach us about letting go, giving thanks, and finding balance.

Give Thanks for What You Have

The poet John Keats called autumn “the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” and he’s not wrong.

In cultures all across the world, autumn is celebrated as a time of abundance and balance. It’s traditionally when the last harvests of the year are gathered. Festivals abound to celebrate the season. From the Moon Festival of China to the hayrides and cider of American fall flings, autumn offers us one last chance to eat, drink, and be merry for the year.

Baskets and bushels of fall vegetables
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Just like spring, fall is also a transitional season. We say goodbye to the time of growth and turn our gaze to the coming winter. In modern pagan traditions, the Fall Equinox is called Mabon–a festival day that celebrates the balance between day and night. It’s not that different from Thanksgiving, in terms of gathering with family, offering thanks for the bounty of the earth, and eating way too much food. There’s less football at a pagan sabbat, but you get the idea.

Most of the world’s autumn festivals follow the same pattern. We harvest the work of summer, enjoy the fruits of our labors, and prepare for the long, cold nights ahead. Fall reminds us that because we will face tough times in the future, it’s all the more important to celebrate what we have right now.

The Only Constant Is Change

We know the drill: spring turns to summer, summer turns to fall, and fall turns to winter. Then we do it all over again. For our ancestors across the globe, the rhythm of life rose and fell with the seasons. Many of us have lost touch with that rhythm. After all, when you’ve got central air and heat, the weather outside doesn’t really make a difference.

A woman holding a journal and pencil looks out on the autumn woods
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I highly recommend that you find the time this season to get out into nature. Reconnecting with nature is literally grounding! Going for a walk through a park or forest is ideal, but even picking up a handful of fallen leaves or acorns can help you feel more connected to the earth. Breathe in some of that crisp fall air, let the warmth of the sun soak into your skin–but don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

The sun rises and sets every day. The moon waxes and wanes each month. The seasons change as the wheel of the year turns. And in our own lives, there will always be times of abundance and light, followed by periods of scarcity and darkness. That’s just how it goes–and accepting that nothing lasts forever can lift a burden from your shoulders. You can’t fight change, any more than you could fight the moon. There’s peace to be found in letting go.

But don’t worry. Spring will be here again before you know it.

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