Falling Leaves and Letting Go

“When I was willing to let go of what I wanted, I received what was truly mine. I’ve  realized the latter is always the greater gift. – Anita Moorjani

Autumn is here, my favorite time of year. I love how the leaves burn with color and the bite of Canadian air. Listen closely and you can almost hear the laughter of fairies twirling in leaves carried by the wind. In one week, I fly from Chicago to visit my daughter in Vermont. Since girlhood I’ve dreamt of seeing the changing colors of fall in New England. A dream I cling to so tightly, I’m filled with anxiety. What if I miss it like I did three years ago? On that visit the leaves had barely begun to change and rain dumped gloom on every day. For the last two weeks, I’ve been panicking as I watch the foliage in my neighborhood become more colorful each day. What if all the leaves have blown off the trees by the time I get out East? That’s when the thought, “frustration comes from thinking things should be different when they’re already perfect,” hit me. It stopped me in my tracks. The only way to see that perfection is to loosen my grip and be in the now. By worrying about how the trees are going to look next week, I miss how they look right now, in my own back yard.

I’m reminded of the new PC I bought ten years ago, which I thought was a disaster at the time. After having to call customer service over ten times in three weeks, about one malfunction after another, I was certain I had a lemon. I wanted a new computer but was told I only had a two week warranty. What? I couldn’t believe it. To add to my frustration customer service was in a different part of the world. Each time I called I talked to a different operator who had no real authority to help me. With persistence I finally was able to connect with someone in management who agreed to allow me to return my computer. I shipped it back that day. After that the only thing for me to do was buy a Mac, something I had resisted for years. I vaguely knew my way around Windows and the thought of learning a new operating system overwhelmed me. As it turns out the way my brain and a Mac works are simpatico. Purchasing that dysfunctional PC turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me in my career as an artist. All the support and guidance I’ve gotten from the trainers at the Apple Store opened up my world and the floodgates of creativity. What seemed like a tragedy, in reality, was perfection unfolding.

It’s safe to trust the flow of life. Circumstances may not always seem ideal. Be open to perfect looking different than you imagined. Incidentally, my previously wash-out trip to Vermont held tons of beauty. I suspect I would have been aware of so much more if I hadn’t been so attached to my agenda and resistant to the flow of life. And as American mythologist Joseph Campbell pointed out, “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” And what lies in wait is always a gift.

The models who helped bring the above illustration to life. We had so much fun that day.

The models I photographed who helped bring the above illustration to life. We had so much fun that day.

A photo from my previous trip to Vermont. I was so sure the fall colors were a bust.

A shot from my previous trip to Vermont. I was so sure the autumn colors were a complete bust but my photograph tells a different story.

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All text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.


16 thoughts on “Falling Leaves and Letting Go

  1. Dear Sue, Your words and your picture speak to my heart. Through them, you have given me a gift. Fall is absolutely beautiful in Connecticut this year. I trust in will be spectacular in Vermont. Enjoy your visit with your daughter! Blessings, Lois


  2. I know exactly how you feel and what you mean. I used to miss NH. White Mountains terribly.. now I just close my eyes and I am there. Of course it is no exactly the same.. but it takes away that horrible yearning and anxiousness of wanting now. So now until I move there, I’ll be there every day!


  3. We just retuned from a Fall Foliage river cruise on the Hudson and the photo you took looked like our experience and we thought it was lovely……of course being from Arizona, we are not exactly hard to please!


  4. Your ‘failure’ fall photo is, as I am sure you now know, IS beautiful – I love the reds of Autumn the most! So brilliant! Your fairy drawing is awesome and it’s fun to see the real people who you used to make it! Thanks for sharing and have an amazing, beautiful visit to your dear daughter’s home. Beauty will abound!


  5. Dear Sue, When you travel to Vermont, recall the phrase “leaf peeping”! You’ll find your fairies frolicking beneath the hidden places of time. You’ll also notice that each leaf that loses the tree is carried by one tiny fairy on it way down to earth. They gather them then, and burrow for warmth during the winter months. Seek the red maples and travel to the highest elevations to catch the first dustings of snow. There is nothing compared to a gentle hike leaving your footprints behind so that the fairies may follow and spirit your journey. Blessings for a spectacular trip! Warmly, Melissa


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