The leaves on the trees just now are such beautiful colours and vibrantly alive, but they are about to die, to drop from the trees, form carpets of leaves on the ground and then to yield once again to become the earth. The hedgerows are ripe with bursting fruit, the trees full of apples, the last of the flowers around here are blowsy with life. Animals make free with this richness, filling their stores, making the most of the last days of plenty before the winter comes. At the tail-end of summer everything reaches its culmination.
How stark it is, at this time of year, to compare this natural, circular ripening and yielding to what we do as humans and how we live.
I feel that I have spent a lot of my life fighting. When I was a mother to two small children, I was impatient with the little amount I felt I could achieve in a day; I felt held up by my duties as a mother and constrained by the things I had to do for them. In retrospect that time was so brief and what I learned from them was so profound (how to live in the moment, how to love, how to nurture and support) that I see I was a fool to ever have resented it. Watching friends with small babies now, I realise how time-consuming looking after small children is - of course you don't get much else done! But I also observe how mother and fatherhood mellows us; teaches us; leads us on into new experiences that make us better human beings. What I mean to say is that it felt like I was achieving little, but in truth I was learning some of the most important lessons of my life. My understanding of life was deepening without my even being aware of it, let alone fighting for it. Things ripen in their own time.
We fight against our natures too, don't we? Whether it's hardening ourselves against life's pain and the people who might hurt us; or toughening ourselves up to deal with corporate life; steeling ourselves against the possibility of failure lest people discover we are not perfect; or putting our vibrant selves away in order to fit into a mould of who we think we ought to be and what we think other people need from us.
And we battle too, when we are unable to see the way ahead clearly, when life gets difficult and the path ahead is obscured. Hard then to trust that hiatus can be an important, meaningful and beneficial part of our lives. Hard then to have faith that each period of our life has a purpose and a meaning that we might not be able to appreciate until a long time afterwards.
I hope that the older I get, the more I will trust in the rhythm of my life. That I will remember that, like the natural world around me, at times my life will burst forth, blossom and bloom. I hope that when those times come, I have the courage to seize the opportunities presented and to make the most of them. At other times, my life will seem to contract and I will feel a sense of withdrawal and hiatus. I hope that in those times, I can find the faith to understand that sometimes we must draw back in order to take stock and consolidate, before moving forward again. I hope that I can trust that the movement will return in its own time and in its own way.
I hope that I can align more purely with my own nature; truly understand it and allow it to be; absolutely trust in who I am and that my life is exactly as it should be in any given moment. I hope that I am able to confidently seize all the opportunities for growth and enlightenment that life offers me. But I hope that I can also yield, as nature does, when the time is right and that in yielding, I can accept loss and change, in the knowledge that nothing stays the same and that sometimes one thing must give way to make space for another, better, more enriching experience. As summer gives way to autumn, so let me give way to that which I do not know and cannot see. And let me do it with faith, trust and courage. As my life has taught me in the past, so let me trust that it will teach me in the future.
All yoga asks of us is that we come to understand our true selves and to live honestly in alignment with that true self; to engage fully in this life and to give wholeheartedly of ourselves; to learn from life and to love it in all its forms. I hope that I can yield more and fight less while staying true to that which I am.