How many more autumns do I have left?
“The seasons come and go, summer follows spring and fall follows summer and winter follows fall, and human beings are born and mature, have their middle age, begin to grow older and die, and everything has its cycles. Day follows night, night follows day. It is good to be part of all of this.” ~ American Indian saying
“One thing I want to do on this little getaway is walk in an aspen forest!”
I said these words to my wife while leaving for a short getaway last week. As we drove our 1995 Eurovan west into the mountains, the colors of autumn were brilliantly alive as we headed towards a little town on Colorado’s western slope. I was pleased that we managed to carve out a few days from our busy lives, especially as we realized that it was peak fall season for the aspens.
After a couple of glorious days filled with simple healthy food, hot springs soaking and hiking (in green conifer forests), some unforeseen circumstances necessitated we head for home sooner than we had planned. As we retraced our path back through Colorado’s high country, I realized that my wish for a saunter among the golden aspens did not happen. While taking in the lovely fall scenery through the windshield of the van, I thought, “How many more autumns will I get to experience before I am dead?” This sentiment was well stated by Steve Jobs – how most things “just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” Somewhere I heard that Buddhist philosophy says that we have less time than we think.
Such thoughts led me to realize that this is my last autumn while in my 50s. We may need to get home, but it can wait a little longer. Taking that saunter in an aspen forest quickly became truly important. I found a little turnoff that led us to just what I was looking for. We were soon immersed in the magic of an autumn aspen forest. The golden light seemed to be coming out of the leaves themselves as they percussively tinkled with the breeze.
I am not one to dwell on death and dying. But, I am also not one who thinks that I am going to live to 150, and that my body will be able to do anything I want it to do right up until I’m 150. Life sure seems to be slipping by, and I have no idea if I have 10? 20? 30? 40? more autumns left. Or maybe this one is going to be my last.
What I do know is that I am not going to live forever, and as hard as I try to keep my body healthy and strong, I know that this body of mine is not designed to go on forever. Bodies get old, and they eventually quit working. Until then, I plan on experiencing as many walks among the autumn aspens – and the winter, spring and summer aspens too – as I can.