It’s that time of year again. The time in New Mexico when leaves turn to a state of golden wonder- struggling to make their last few weeks a spectacular display of Autumn’s brilliance. From my office I can see the river valley, a dense population of Cottonwoods and Ash- huddled together like desperate and cold statues of wood and bark.
It reminds me of how much this change in season can affect those around me. Some would say that expecting people to have more issues around this time of year is just asking for it to occur. However, I believe that the human being is somewhat designed to fear change as a way of preparing for survival. We have rituals and ceremonies in our various cultures that are designed to welcome this change, but some of it can come with an inherent sense of foreboding.
The ancient Egyptians eventually figured out that the Nile would often flood near this time of the year. When the Eastern winds would blow toward Ethiopia, storm clouds would fill the air and torrential downpours would overwhelm the Nile’s most Northern tenant. Eventually, the powers-that-be determined that moving to higher ground would avoid the eventual and dangerous deluge.
Thousands of years later we have an opportunity to do something similar. The holiday season is often the most troubling for many of my patients. Increasing the time with family or having to brave the crowds at shopping malls can cause much anxiety and suffering; often culminating in a desire to isolate and avoid these crowds much like the Egyptians wanting to avoid the flood. My point is that this anxiety can be a productive thing- that there is no reason that one cannot learn to appreciate and own this sense of tension and understand its historical significance. This is the time of year when the leaves fall off the trees, leaving them exposed. However, they will survive to the Spring and blossom again. I ask you to look at the bare trees and join them in the hope of a new beginning- one that’s simply months away. But until then… move to higher ground.