Letting go: A Lesson from the Tree Kingdom

Today was the chilliest day of the fall season thus far. I even saw the first snowflakes make their entrance during my walk through my favourite local forest. In North America at this time, the forests are giving their yearly masterclass on letting go with grace. The colors are particularly vivid this year I notice, as I was admiring the beauty of this yearly cycle. Something about the sound and feel of walking thru fallen leaves is acutely nostalgic for me, evoking memories of my siblings and I as children, gathering massive piles in order to launch our bodies into them. The decaying leaves and moist earth are the smells of my childhood and home.

I marvel at the trees who are immersed in this transition now, releasing the leaves they were recently devoted to growing and maintaining. The pang of sadness I feel instinctively tells of my sensitivity, especially when it comes to goodbyes. Even seemingly simple, common-sensical ones can be poignant for me. I let myself imagine for a moment a tree as sentimental as I am, resisting the letting go process and holding on to its leaves tightly with fondness. Despite the growing cold and bitter winter storms, I envision this tree grasping onto its brittle leaves, now completely dried out and withered. I think of what would happen after the thaw, when Spring re-enters the scene and sap begins to rise from the trunk into the branches in preparation for a new crop of budding leaves. This refusal to let go would certainly be a hindrance to the tree’s growth & expansion. In my own experience, I can attest that holding on too tightly to anything, has not served me well. So, letting go is for the best it seems, for the trees and for me, and the acceptance of this truth makes my eyes well up involuntarily.

Just then I notice a small child walking behind her father, marching triumphantly through the fallen leaves with glee, completely immersed in the rustling and crunching sound she is making with every step. This stops me in my tracks. Could a goodbye be a cause for frolicking? I am slowly warming to the idea. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it is realistic that I could completely erase the sentimentality of farewells, however I could very well make increasingly more room for the possibility of joy, appreciation and freedom being part of the process. More of a celebratory send-off, filled with gratitude, as the trees exemplify so well.

I share this as I face many endings & farewells in my own life, at this close of eclipse season, as many of us are, and I hope that this simple yet beautiful lesson from the tree kingdom may help us all sink a little deeper into the blessings that come with letting go. May we greet what comes next warmly, and receive the gifts of newness that these releases make room for.

the lily and rose

featured photo: Annie Pratt/unsplash

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