The First Day of Autumn

The rain, it started tapping on the window near my bed. There was a loophole in my dreaming,
so I got out of it. And to my surprise my eyes were wide and already open.

Today was the first day of Autumn, and it cast an enchantment on my heart like a dancer in the fields of harvest time. I smiled more today than I have in the month that preceded it.

Just my nightstand and my dresser where those nightmares had just been.
So I dressed myself and left then, out into the gray streets.
But everything seemed different and completely new to me.
The sky, the trees, houses, buildings, even my own body.
And each person I encountered, I couldn't wait to meet.

Life is good. The autumn of my life is beginning, and it is time to let some of my leaves die. It's time to let my bad habits change color, get brittle, and fall from the tips of my fingers to drift lazily to the earth. It is time to celebrate that I will stand barren before the world for another season, and anticipate replacing old and tired ideas with new ones, more noble and more crafty than the ones that came before.

I came upon a doctor who appeared in quite poor health.
I said "{I am terribly sorry but} there is nothing I can do for you
{that} you can't do for yourself."

And this much is true! For what habit could I break another of? What kindness could I instill? What joy could I present? None! They may choose to feel joy at my coming, kindness at my urging, and abandon habits at my insistence, but it is their choice, and their will, that makes them who they are, not my vain encouragings.

He said "Oh yes you can. Just hold my hand. I think that would help."

The good doctor is right at the core of it though, for therein lies the only good we can ever do for another: We can be the other that they cannot. We can be the outsider and the prophet.

So I sat with him a while and then I asked him how he felt.
He said, "I think I'm cured. No, in fact, I'm sure of it.
Thank you Stranger, for your therapeutic smile."

Are we being the outsider for those that need us? Am I?

So that is how I learned the lesson that everyone is alone.
And your eyes must do some raining if you are ever going to grow.

This is the lesson I had to learn to get to the place where I stand at this moment. I see now that in the distance is another place, and there is a lesson between here and there that I must learn, but I do not know the nature of that lesson yet.

But I am eager for it.

But when crying don't help and you can't compose yourself.
It is best to compose a poem, an honest verse of longing or simple song of hope.
That is why I'm singing...
Baby don't worry cause now I got your back. And every time you feel like crying,
I'm gonna try and make you laugh. And if I can't, if it just hurts too bad,
then we will wait for it to pass and I will keep you company
through those days so long and black.

Until then, this autumn shall by my autumn. Twenty three years and this one shall be the best yet, for in it I will shed my brittle outer skin and reveal a new layer underneath, more supple and of kinder stuff than the last.

And we'll keep working on the problem we know we'll never solve
Of Love's uneven remainders, our lives are fractions of a whole.

A community of outsiders, playing prophet and priest for each new need of our fellows. That's a world in which I can believe.

But if the world could remain within a frame like a painting on a wall.
Then I think we would see the beauty.
Then we would stand staring in awe at our still lives posed like a bowl of oranges,
like a story told by the fault lines and the soil.

Each moment that we linger here, in the late summer of youth, is a moment when we are not reaching forward, rushing headlong into the first revision of our lives. We are rough drafts, full of bad grammar and awkward themes. The first editing may be at hand, and I welcome it.

This is the autumn of our youth. The winter comes quickly, shed your leaves and join me here, at the edge of a new world!

Lyrics: Brights Eyes - Bowl of Oranges.
Image: Wistine

Wednesday, September 20, 2006