It seems like the very day after Labor Day I am ambushed by Fall. While I am still holding onto summer, still wearing my white jeans, and planning just one more barbeque, I don’t want to even think about Fall. This year the weather even joined the conspiracy in Berkeley, so we could have our patio doors open all day and the windows open all night. I could have sworn it was just the beginning of a long, hot summer.
As if all of nature’s plan were to kick me unexpectedly into Autumn, like an aggressive shove from behind into an arctic lake, September 2 was dark and cold, making it harder than ever to get out of bed. The first thing I did after forcing myself from under the warmth of the blankets was to go downstairs to turn on the heat, after which I raised the kitchen blinds, and right there before my eyes was a flying Wallenda-type squirrel streaking through a pile of dried leaves with a walnut in his jaws. I swear those leaves weren’t anywhere to be seen when we were tidying up the patio for our party yesterday! Next, when I went out to the driveway to retrieve the newspapers, I noticed the same circus squirrel digging around in the dirt for the perfect storage unit for his prize. None of this was going on just yesterday, that last, lazy day of summer.
Suddenly, before I’d had a chance to put the water on to boil for tea, it all crashed in, like a descent of crows, all nagging at once: Back to school! Back to work! Back to business! Winter is coming – the holidays! The New Year! So much to do!” When I arrive at the office, the phone is ringing a little more urgently. It seems to have dawned on people that they need help with their careers and new jobs pronto! That means a new resume if they are going to find a job before Christmas or before the New Year when everybody else will be looking for a job. The rush is on. No wonder the squirrels are flying out of trees!
But then, after a long, busy day driving home from the office after dark, I was reminded of the admonition I had heard on the morning news – to look for the Harvest Moon in the night sky. . . I had forgotten all about it, but there it was hanging huge, ridiculously orange, ridiculously bright, just to the right of a dark mountain, a supersized Halloween Trick and Treat: The Harvest Moon! I could say that it brought me to my knees, but I was driving, so I just pulled over and stopped. I felt I had been forced to stop, to drink in the beauty of the giant, orange glowing thing, so close you could see the face. Wasn’t it dangerously close to Earth? It sounds absurd, but I swear, it seemed to be relaxed and smiling, saying, “I’m ba-a-ck! Remember me? Look how beautiful I am! You forgot, didn’t you? You haven’t been paying attention, have you?”
Well, I am now. I have been filled with harvest thinking ever since you stopped me in the midst of my frantic tracks. I can’t stop hearing the chorus of Eastern-European peasants bending over in the fields at days end, singing a weary chorus of Bringing in the Sheaves… I see pumpkins on the vine, pumpkin pie, a fall festival of color and smells, drying vineyards, a celebration, all shouting, “It’s Fall. It’s the glorious Fall!”
This morning I woke up thinking about the new client I met with for the first time just yesterday. She is thinking about what’s next for her and how to keep doing what she loves to do, but with a little less stress and a little more time to enjoy this next stage of life, while she is still healthy, has so much to offer, and a chance to “give back.” Do I do retirement coaching?
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do,” I find myself saying. “I have coaching clients from age 25 to 75. Every age and stage presents another transition, and transitions are hard—painful, even. Every transition is a time to celebrate, a time to grieve, and a time to plan for what’s next.” Same things I always say, no matter what life stage we are talking about, but they apply to various people in various ways, depending on their particular situation.
What an incredible first session we had!—this woman who called about retirement coaching and I. It became obvious that our work will lead to the greatest harvest of all: the harvest of a rich, deep, purposeful, meaningful life, well-lived, and deeply appreciated. “This is the time to come into your fullness,” I say, “to come into your wisdom, power and peace! But that it usually doesn’t arrive all by itself. You have to clear everything up, take charge, ‘reflect and capture’ what you think, claim who you are. And then to actually be who you are, know what you care about, what you believe, what your most important gifts and talents are, and decide how you want to live and what you want to do with the many years ahead.”
When the time comes that you are on your deathbed, you want to be able to look back on your life and be able to say, “What a great life I’ve had. I can rest now,” with the smile of the big, wise Harvest Moon on your face.
After all, that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?