It's also red leaf picking season.
One fall afternoon years ago, my husband and I drove past a woman who was gathering red leaves in her arms. Deadpanned, Greg said, "Must be red leaf picking season," as he continued the drive toward home. That woman was gathering poison oak. I told him we should stop to tell her what she was doing, but Greg was not a stopper, not until he died.
I was feeling a bit melancholy last Sunday. I was home alone. The sun was going down behind the redwoods casting shadows over the house; a big pall of doom. It's that time of year when the sun starts going down that much earlier. The lighting on the house changes into creepy early afternoons. Halloween is just around the corner, then the holidays, no money, food issues and relatives...
There's a list of dramas that I annually mull. Through some sort of bad habit (or is this human nature?) I have developed this list over the years. Each year I add more drama (for lack of a better word) to the list. Then when I mentally go over the list to ensure more misery, I find I have perfectly valid reasons for feeling down in the dumps.
I wonder why we keep retelling these stories (unless I'm the only person who does it)? I wonder why I just don't celebrate the changing season(s) instead of thinking of all the people who've died during that time, the people who left, or that I'm alone in my house on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Below is a sample list of snivels:
- Every year my sister and I have a conversation about how Greg ruined fall season by dying in the middle of it.
- The sun goes down early and casts shadows.
- It's going to be daylight savings time soon so there'll be less daylight (because we'll be saving it).
- No one comes to my house for tricks or treats because I live in the boonies.
- I am alone.
- My seventh anniversary *would* have been Oct 31st. Without my ex, there is no anniversary.
- I don't have any halloween decorations up (and who started that trend anyway?)
- It's indian summer and hotter than hell.
- With the sun going down earlier, I can't tan during the daylight and have to go to the tanning salon. (j/k!)
- Half days spent under light therapy due to seasonal affective disorder.
- Repeated stories about 9/11, the media stream who's only purpose is to get us to buy stuff. Is this push to remember 9/11 so we can really remember those who suffered or is it so we can relive all the commercials trying to sell us products we don't need?
- I don't even recall making a list of horrors prior to 9/11.
I've decided I am going to change my ways this year (as if I haven't already). I'm not going to repeat stories (especially when I'm alone). If my mind goes to that place, I'm going to shoot the thought out of my head like my hillbilly neighbor shoots his 22.
I'm making a list of ways to celebrate the changing of the season. First thing I'm going to do is *if* I get sulky when I'm alone, I'm going to force myself onto the elliptical instead of walking like a zombie toward the fridge. I'm going to hang Halloween lights and turn them on every night. I'm going to buy Halloween candy and put it in a bowl by the door. (I have not bought Halloween candy in 14 years!) When no one comes trick or treating, I'll find some unsuspecting child with which to give the candy. I'll (finally) spread Greg's ashes, some at Pigeon Point and some in the forest where he spent so much time. I'll invite close friends to celebrate his life instead of keeping his ashes hidden in that beautifully carved walnut box that I paid $1,000 for, money I could now use on Halloween decorations, candy and real books containing stories of other people's misery, a mortgage.
What happens that causes us to repeat stories like this (or again, am I the only one)? (And since today is 9/11 and stories of 9/11 are all over the media, I'm thinking it's not just me.) My mom read to us when we were young though I don't recall her reading depressing stories, telling us to memorize them and repeat as necessary when life is going well.
I've been wondering about the stories we tell ourselves for the past few days. Are these stories legitimate tales we tell ourselves in order to grieve? Or are they only inside our heads to make us suffer? And if suffering is the answer, why do we choose to suffer by our own hand? Why do I collect maudlin, mood-modifying missives to make myself miserably masochistic? Is it because I'm Jewish? Does it have anything to do with being raised Protestant? Am I Jew in a Protestant's body? Miz says that makes me a Jewtestant. (That explains a lot!)
If you do this too, instead of sulking away the entire fall season, mulling over your doom list for days on end, for crying out loud, cease and desist! Give the list one good going over. That's it! Then bake a cheesecake, take a walk, sing Halloween carols at the local senior center or get yourself up to the mountains for red leaf picking season. This time of year we have a plethora of decorative choices to pick from. Come up to the mountains to get your fall decor before the seasons change once again and you have one more dramatic loss to add to your dread list for next year.