By Jessica Gulotta, SED 2017
There’s something about autumn that overwhelms me with comfort and bliss. Part of me thinks it’s because everything’s covered in different shades of orange and red; but mostly, it’s the change that the fall goes through that encompasses my admiration. When leaves change color, they’re not only dying, but they’re parting from their home, getting ready to be taken helplessly by the wind. There’s a beauty in this loss of life—it expands the room for impending growth and reveals the strength that vulnerability compels.
I was seven years old when I first started seeing nature as a symbol for life. Not metaphorically yet of course, but I was able to understand that people change as do the seasons. My Dad had taken me on one of his outdoor adventures again, and I was smitten with the fallen leaves. I remember him wiping the dirt off my hands as I picked up leaves from the newly cold ground. Watching me closely, he knew it was time for my first, of many, inspirational life chats. He started off by explaining modestly, why plants die when it gets cold, and grow when it gets warm. He told me how important it was to recognize change and appreciate it. He enforced that if I loved watching the leaves fall and blow throughout the wind, then I should do exactly that (and never stop). I remember him cleaning the dirt out from underneath my fingernails, making me pinky promise that I’ll always make time for what I love.
I think in college, it’s easy to get lost in obligations. Activities that used to be fun start to feel like a job, and taking time for oneself becomes nearly impossible. We mustn’t forget to stop and take time—time for our passion, time for our loved ones, and time for ourselves. When we remember to stop and take time, we allow expansion as individuals and development for change. There’s empowerment in knowing that if we desire to change, we can. So as I’ll walk along the esplanade this fall, embracing the comfort in the wind, I’ll keep that pinky promise to my Dad—and I encourage you to join me, and watch the leaves fall.