So many things scream the arrival of fall. The changing colors of trees, cold morning breeze, early sunsets, and a mug full of hot pumpkin spice latte. Many things also quietly remind me of the dark gloomy condition thickening in my brain when the autumn comes. It was about this time many years ago that I first started my psychotherapy. It was the day my will was defeated by depression, or so I thought. I spent most of my fall and winter in clinical depression that began in the early summer so, logically, by my learned experiences, this time of year could easily condition me back to my old sufferings of depression.
As we mature, we learn to hold both joy and sadness at the same time. One great part of being older is that I have a more mature brain to process both ends of my emotions. It has the ability to navigate through the complex labyrinth of confusing emotions and thoughts. With age, we gradually settle in the unified states of emotions and thoughts. Perhaps, it is safe to say that I am no longer governed by my intense yet deceiving interplay of emotions and thoughts.
I have been a long advocate of drinking coffee, and even worked in the coffee industry for many years. Although I have switched to decaf because of the caffeine being a stimulant, I still drink coffee every morning as part of my quiet morning routine. Henry David Thoreau has famously asked, “With all your science, can you tell me how it is that the light comes into my heart?” Every time I drink coffee, I try to explain how it is that the bitter flavor of coffee penetrates so deep into my psych as well as my heart. When you hold a warm drink in hands, you experience life coming to a gentle pause. This gentleness and serenity can be easily achieved when you make a habit of sitting down with a morning cup of tea or coffee. It becomes a daily meditation opportunity. For the past few days, I have been brewing darker coffees to go with my pumpkin pureed milk. The simple process of creating homemade pumpkin spice latte sparks joy on my early fall mornings. I whisk and froth my warm milk in its full fall flavor of pumpkin as if to ward off the creeping memories of my many falls into the deep depression every autumn. It’s a small effort to beat the blues. It’s my daily ritual to re-condition my once fallen brain. It’s how I hold both sadness and joy at the same time in my awakened heart. When life gives you pumpkins, make pumpkin lattes! This is my practical adaptation of being present to life in its fullness.
So how do you plan to make the most of this fall that will undoubtedly pass by so quick? Summer and winter have extended while spring and autumn have shortened noticeably. This global climate change makes these quick transitional seasons all the more desirable. To me, perfect crisp autumn is all about eating fresh apples straight from the farm, collecting tiny little pumpkins at markets with my little baby girl, and reading Korean books. Why Korean books? Because Korea has the most perfect autumn days that I know. If you ever plan to travel over there, make sure you go in the fall. It’s the best season in Korea. For me, reading in Korean gets me as close as I can to the Korean autumn days. What about those fall festivals? What about hiking up the colorful hills? What about jumping into the piles of dry leaves and savoring the crisp noise? So many joyful activities abound to keep your autumn days fresh. In life, there will always be plenty of room for sadness. But the sadness is always mingled with the daily joys of pure life. In many ways, the season of autumn teaches how to allow the fall and celebrate the harvest, how to let go, and how to accept. It is through this dance of accepting and letting go that we are able to hold sadness and joy in one heart without their power splitting one’s mind. Instead, we are welcomed in the gentle ocean of awareness and fully come alive to match the life in its full vibrant force. So when life gives you fall, fall harder. And really experience this wonderful fall season.