I saw a leaf let go today, saw it make up its mind, consider its options and then recognise its fate by loosening its hold on the branch, and wafting gently, slowly to the ground to face whatever nature had next in store.
I was just walking by, caught up in my life, in the next appointment and what else I had to do.
I had forgotten how connected to the world I was, and how, for a brief second, I could be shown meaning and responsibility and acceptance in such an achingly simple way.
The leaf made no noise, told no one of its decision and didn’t need hours of therapy or agonising with its thoughts to continue what was, no doubt, the hardest part of its journey.
It had budded, sweet and green, fresh with hope and life in the sunshine of spring when anything seems possible in life. Then as autumn came it hung on through the cooler days, browning on the edges, drying up by degrees, life seeping from it, energy extinguishing.
What would happen next? The leaf had not stopped to consider how it came to be, what miracles had conspired to enable its birth – it just lived, in joy, warmed by the sun, washed clean by the rain and tasting the delicious stories of faraway places brought to it by the wind.
When the sky above darkened and shone with diamonds the leaf didn’t question or wonder, it lived and enjoyed.
Then changes came and the wind brought a chill and ushered scudding clouds across the sky to blot the sun and steal the diamond skies.
The leaf began to understand that nothing lasts – not forever – and that soon would be its time for letting go. It’s just that it had no idea where the letting go – the surrendering –would lead him.
Could it be to nothingness; a blackness and void that he couldn’t imagine after the blaze of lights and colour to which he had been silent witness all summer?
Wordless, he wished there was someone to advise him, but his tree merely continued to whisper its unintelligible secrets in the same sing-song lullaby that had informed his time on earth.
He was scared. He saw fellow leaves go, sometimes it was not their choice, they were wrenched from their branches when the wind kicked up a foul mood, other times they simply ran out of strength and dropped, unprepared, without warning.
It was not what the leaf wanted. It wanted a corner of control. He saw now that all paths led to the moment when he would fall and journey toward some unknown destination – or simply nowhere at all. Resistance was pointless and seemed an inappropriate punctuation for the richness of its existence.
So in the morning of a bright day, when the sun shone and the wind slapped faces with its cold fingers, the leaf summoned its thoughts.
It remembered the joy of unfurling to a mosaic of blue and green and brown. The soft touch of the smooth summer zephyrs that warmed him, and watching for the first time as an incandescent orb rose above the darkened world. The leaf soaked up the surging sense of life, pulsing and growing and bursting around it. So much richness, so much pleasure.
Then, filling itself with these joys, the leaf simply let go.
It was so easy in the end.
And he traveled, through space, and it seemed, through time as I walked past, arrested in my mundane existence by the reminder of the choices, the moments, the beauty of life and its patterns.