Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Harvest in Full Bloom

The "peak fall foliage" season has arrived in full bloom, up here in the lush Hudson Valley, bringing an array of richness in color that rivals any tapestry designed to capture it. The autumn leaves turn into their vibrant hues as they are essentially being pushed from the limbs of the branches that they were born onto, just months earlier. The trees being in preparation for the time when snow will cover their limbs and the leaves would be an inordinate burden to bear. For many of us, the arc from spring into fall carries with it a symbolism of one's youth into one's middle age.

My body seems to have its' own arcing system of preparation for the seasons ahead that operates quite independently from how I think or feel. Upon waking each morning, after a brief adjustment into a fluidity of movement, I perceive myself as the youthful man I am content to be, if only in mind and not in body. This perception serves me well, until I pass a mirror or climb some stairs or ruminate about the exercise program I have once again abandoned today. The efforts to maintain the youthful appearances of old has yielded to the contentment of remembering the "old days."

Suddenly, the pleasure of listening to music from my youth has taken on new appeal because it still has the capacity to fire the engines that ran hotly through my body, in those days. Sylvester, Madonna and Donna Summers, to name a few, are constants on my iPod playlist. Or, pouring through old photos of myself and friends, that were once discarded as not "good shots", have just as quickly become stand ins for what "once was" and reinforcements of the underlying perception that things have not changed. But they have. The awareness creeps in, in many subtle ways, from reduced energy levels to the sudden perception of how young everyone else is, especially in film and television.

But, the experiences that I have been fortunate enough to live through adds a zest for life that makes wanting to experience more unquestionable. From the inception of the Motown era to the March on Washington, from hippies to disco, from feminism to gay rights, from John F Kennedy to Barack Obama, I have witnessed first hand the changing of the guard, and know with certainty that more lays ahead. So, as I move into the autumn season of my life, shedding the leaves of my youth to more lightly take on the new experiences ahead, I do so with a new contentment, based on reality and not just perception.