Lessons from Nature

Nature in autumn

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.  ~Albert Camus

In the past few days I’ve witnessed the magnificence of nature—autumn is in full swing. Life said goodbye to the warmth of the summer and is readying itself for the cold winter.

Leaves are dancing to the gust of wind in a symphony of color, flying freely, giving in to their fate … gracefully.

There are a few lessons that this season and nature can teach us about life. These are the most important ones that I want to share with you today.

Lesson 1: non-attachment

The Buddhists believe that the origin of suffering is attachment to transient things.

Leaves grow attached to their mother tree. However, when it is time to move on, they fall to the ground freely. They don’t hold on more than they need to. The tree lets go of the leaves it mothered with grace and complete surrender. It doesn’t hold on to them when they are no longer needed.

One can look at it as an act of love as well. The leaves were not meant to withstand the harshness of the winter. They served their purpose and they can be of better service to life as they transform to mulch and feed the earth. I can view myself as the tree and every person and experience in my life as a leaf. Each leaf is there to serve a purpose. When things end, I can move on just like the tree and let the experiences and people go—without holding on to the past with its regrets and triumphs.

We can let go of stories, experiences and people that have moved on or as we grow and move on ourselves.

Lesson 2: contentment

He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature. ~ Socrates

All leaves are dealt their hand in life. Some leaves get to grow at the top of the tree, others in the middle and some closer to the bottom. Some leaves are bright and shiny and others might have some browning spots or are misshapen. Each one of those leaves contributes to the overall existence of the tree. No leaf is better or worse. Leaves don’t compare themselves to each other or want more of what they don’t have. Each leaf evolves as it is to serve its purpose as part of the tree.

We can look at humanity as the tree and each one of us as a leaf. Some are privileged; others are not. Human leaves come in all shapes and forms and abilities. None of us is better or worse, we all are here to be part of the tree of humanity—contributing to its beauty and evolution. We don’t need to have any more than what we have to serve our purpose and be all we can be.

Lesson 3: surrender

Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does. ~George Bernard Shaw

When I look at the wind blowing and pushing the leaves around, I feel it’s bullying them and kicking them into submission. But I don’t think this is how the leaves experience it. Instead of fighting and resisting the wind, they move with it without complaining.

We can do the same as the wind starts to blow in our lives. We can move with life without fighting and resisting. We can accept what life hands us and make the best of it, trusting that it is serving the greater purpose of our growth.

The beauty of life lies in its constant graceful and surrendered change. Let’s join life in its celebration of the season by fully accepting and living our own life as it unfolds in this moment.

No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace,

As I have seen in one autumnal face. ~John Donne