In the nostalgia of fall I marvel at the red and gold of gorgeous death as leaves yield the salad greenness of their youth to the decadence of nature’s inexorable cycle. Is this not the most beautiful quadrant of the year, this “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” as John Keats called it? How easily I respond to the beauty of aging flora yet am blind to resplendence elsewhere!
Do I stare at the granite faces of aging humanity and notice in their wrinkles a lifetime of experience and grandeur? Or realize that arthritic limbs struggling across my path are ancient feet nearing the mountain top for a view of the promised land? Can I gaze into the mists of watery eyes and see in their now-blurred vision a legacy of a better tomorrow for me?
Image, we are fond of saying, is everything and the only images I cherish are the shiny faces of youth leaping at me from the glossy covers of the chronicles of our times. I hurry up express elevators in the scrubbed steel and glass monuments of this new millennium, oblivious to the forlorn wisdom of forgotten pyramids and a tireless sphinx keeping vigil amid the buffeting gales of the sands of time. In the traffic of morning I impatiently sound my horn at hunched figures in slow lanes and wrinkle my nose at the smell of decay wafting my way from the outhouses of homes for the aged.
Perhaps this year, in knee-deep amazement amid the embers of dying maple leaves, I can also celebrate the lives that have struggled through spring and endured the summer’s heat. Let me remember that true beauty lies as much in the songs of experience as in the melodies of innocence.