By Lynn Seiser
Fall is a time of transition. It comes at the end of summer and ends where winter begins. It is a time when the leaves turn colors and the weather gets cooler. Summer vacation is over and the kids are going back to school. Vacations remembered in the pictures taken. We begin to plan for next year
Labor Day begins the fall. It is a time to honor labor. Grandparent's Day is the time to honor our ancestry. Fall contains the autumn equinox, the sun crossing the equator, and the days begin to get shorter. Halloween is "all hallow eve," followed by All Saint's Day.
What does fall mean? By definition, fall literally means to come down. It may be a coming down due to gravity, falling, tumbling, being wounded or killed in battle. It is a loss of power or status. It only makes sense that after the summer of our lives, comes the fall. The old saying "pride comes before the fall" appears applicable.
Consistent with the theme of my last several columns, let us see if we can find a new deeper meaning to the fall season. If each of us were to make a personal commitment to find the meanings in the season, we would have a better planet. In times when people lived closer to the earth, the seasons brought many changes. Different foods were available. Whole villages would move with the seasons. Along with changes, people respected the season. Yet in these times, we try to control everything. We fight the changes of seasons in the world. We fight against the seasons of our lives. We honor summer (our youth) and hide from the fall (adulthood) and winter (old age).
Finding meaning is a personal journey. An exercise that has helped many of my clients is to take each letter of a word and find words that go with it. This will help each of us to see the positive and negatives that we hold within us. Let's see what we discover.
F is the first letter in fall. It may represent our fight to always be first. There is a fanatic fear of being a failure. This fear freezes us when faced with failure, or it sends us into flight. We so emphasize this fear, that to avoid failure, many people never start. They never take that risk, so they never know. By facing the risk of failure, we can have a future. We can make commitments to our family. We can have faith. It is a time to honor our fathers (male) and to honor the feminine. We can see how full or how empty and frivolous our life has been. To fall can mean to see beyond our youthful ego and gain humility. Humility is the way to find forgiveness and fulfillment.
A is the first letter of the alphabet, but the second letter in the word fall. It can mean to have apathy for what is happening. Apathy breeds aggression, abuse and abandonment. Authority may blind us to the agony of others. We may have anxiety or ambivalence about many important issues. We do not have to be ashamed or alone. A can also mean to be alive. It is about being active with our ability to alter our lives by making new alternatives possible. Alchemy was not just about turning metals to gold. Alchemy is to accept our authority, our personal power, and enter this great adventure we call adulthood. It is a time to be accountable and to begin our search for answers. It is a time of angels.
L is the last two letters in the word fall. It can mean laziness and loser. It can be a time of accepting the label of "less than" and low self esteem. It is a time to leave behind the last of our lies and litter. If there is a lock, it is time to find the key. L is a time of life. I tell parents of the 4 L's of parenting. We need to love our children. We need to like our children. We need to set limits so our children can learn. And, we need to accept that OUR children will be a lot like us.
Relationships are based on three Labilities. Loveability: Do you love the person you are with, passionately, romantically and responsibly? Likeability: Do you like and treat the person you are with as a friend and do they like you? And, Liveability: Can you live with each other they way you are, without asking for changes? So let the fall be a time of laughter as we learn to let go of our youth. Let it be a time of liberation from the limited vision we had. Most importantly, let it be a time that our lives reflect light and to fall in love.
Many things in our lives hurt. That hurting lessens as we begin to find some meaning for our suffering. As we begin to make sense of the world, our journey becomes easier. Remember, the journey is meant to be shared. If you've having trouble finding the meaning in your life, reach out for help. It is always a surprise to see how many people are there to help if we just ask. They aren't always the ones we thought would be there. Emotional and mental health is being okay with ourselves when we are alone. Spiritual health means knowing we are never alone.
Fall may be a time to fall down. Perhaps we have been running too fast anyway. As the days get shorter, slow down and enjoy the sunset.
Thank you for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey.
Editor's Note: I apologize for any confusion created by last issue's column. Some of the paragraphs were printed out of sequence.
Lynn Seiser, MA MFCC, is an internationally respected therapist, trainer, consultant, speaker, and writer in the recovery counseling of offenders and victims from violence, trauma and abuse. He can be contacted at: 550 Pacific Coast Hwy. #203, Seal Beach, CA 90740-6601. (310) 799-1371 or email: SeiserL@AOL.com .
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