Okay, so maybe we Californians at coastal altitudes do not get to experience those winters that are the mythical subject of so many Holiday songs. The key missing ingredient, of course, is snow. Over here, 40 degree (Fahrenheit) weather is cold. We’re not likely to see white on the ground… and if we do, it’s a big surprise (Yes, it has happened… usually as brief bursts of hail, as occurred one magical day early this year).
Despite our usual deficiency in cool white blanketing the landscape, there are nonetheless some remarkable things about being outside at this time of year. The subject of this post is an appreciation for not snow, but instead… leaves.
We are enjoying a quintessential California fall Wonderland of leaves. While I was running through Midtown Sacramento this morning, I was appreciating this Wonderland. The sunlight was glistening through the trees, and the ground was strewn with gold matter, those organic offerings of our arboreal neighbors. There are many places on the street and sidewalks where you see not so much a pile of leaves, as a plush meadow of them festooning the concrete. Last week I saw a gust of wind carrying many of them cheerfully down the street. Now if that is not song-worthy, I don’t know what is!
It’s funny, because the first experience I had when I went outside this morning, all suited up to jog, was appreciation for the sunlight and the pleasant fall-like weather. And the leaves. I feel like here in Sacramento we live in an angelic fairy-land all of our own.
It’s a wonderful reminder of the beauty that exists around us all the time. The key is to be present. I have been thinking a lot about this topic, probably more so than usual because my wife and I are reading through “The Power of Now.” This book is encouraging me to pay attention to what is going one RIGHT NOW. The sights, feels, smells, sounds… even the thinking going on in my brain. These are all part of the present-moment experience.
In his book, Eckhart Tolle talks about Presence. Yes, I meant to capitalize that. The word is gaining a new sense of meaning to me now, as I contemplate its power. The ability to be in the present. That requires keeping a watchful mind to the automatic processes of the brain, which can easily catch our attention and trick us into going down rabbit holes of regretful and unhappy pasts or worried and fearful futures. As Tolle points out, there really is no problem in the present. There are just situations.
I took a little of this consciousness with me this morning on my jog. And it yielded me this great experience: Oh happy me, drifting among the leaves.