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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

The Transience of Fall 'n Leaves

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Humor

Way back in the 1980s, Saturday Review editor and activist Norman Cousins wrote, in his book Anatomy of an Illness, about the use of laughter as part of his regimen to heal himself of an autoimmune disease. There's been a lot of research since then that supports that practice. Here’s a link to a recent article about research on how smiling--even "fake" smiling--can help you feel better. You might give it a try.

Or download some funny movies, read a humorous book, look at comic strips and cartoons. Or check out the paragraph below, my contribution to the cause.

Ever wonder how they come up with those strange names for paint colors? I came across an absurd little article this week that shows what happens if you try to teach Artificial Intelligence (AI) to do just that. Among other things, the researcher fed her AI system over 7,000 Sherwin Williams colors and color names as examples. It looks like her system, at least, had more trouble making sense of those names than most of us--I've provided a few samples of new paint shades and names here, according to her AI. Here's the link to the entire article, including 23 paint names. I love words and I love colors, so I find this rather hilarious. Do you have a favorite?

BTW, the numbers after the names are the "RGB values" which reflect the different proportions of three hues of light, (Red, Green and Blue) for practically any color you can come up with.

The Transience of Fall 'n Leaves

In the fall I have a habit of picking up colorful leaves as I walk, usually choosing the ones that have fallen most recently--they are so beautiful and they come in so many shapes and hues. I love to run my hand along the smooth surface, or carefully rub one between my thumb and fingers. If I pay attention but don't concentrate too hard, I can almost feel the color seeping into my body, illuminating my soul. Not only the color but the smell, the feel--the whole essence of fall.

If I want my hands free sometimes I tuck the leaves into my pocket, where they are likely to get a little bent up, and occasionally forgotten. But most often I carry them home intact and lay them out on the dining table or in our basket of bright gourds where they can loan us their brilliance, at least for a few hours. By the next morning they are all dried and crinkly, except the leaves of the noble oak which usually last a few days longer.

Fall is my favorite season. I was born and bred in New England--fall there is so beautiful it is hard not to be entranced. But it is not just the beauty of fall that has captured my heart. There is also something compelling about the clear cold air, the transience, the poignancy of the season. The "sweet" in this bittersweet experience is made more heartbreakingly beautiful because we know it won't last.

Each time I pick up a leaf, it helps me appreciate the remarkable beauty of nature, and the glory of trees in the fall. And each time I pick one up, some part of me knows that it will inevitably fade, that fall will end and winter begin. So each time I gather them and take them home, they help me in some small way to say goodbye to summer, to warmth, to outward bounty, and hello to the coming beauty of the inner path, of solitude, of frost.

Each fall is an offering, if I choose to receive it, an opportunity to experience, and maybe begin to accept both the beauty and the ephemeral nature of life. Life in general, and my own life specifically.

Isn't this the great paradox of our lives as human beings, the very nature of nature? We live every day, every moment in the presence of glory and loss, within and without, whether we realize it or not. It can be so difficult--and so amazing.

As I watch the leaves fall, I know the tree will remain, for now, at least. And I know that next spring the cycle will begin again. So I have hope. And beauty. And the sweet and fruitful sadness of life as I follow the circle around.

Some of you will recognize this quintessentially New England scene as the village green in Newfane, VT, where my parents lived for 25 (mostly) happy years after they retired.

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Paint color names, Ars Technica

Child holding leaves, Markus Spiske, unSplash

Leaves on a line, Chris Lawton, unSplash

Newfane Village Green, Ray Bates,


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