Magazine article Tikkun

Autumn Wonders

Magazine article Tikkun

Autumn Wonders

Article excerpt

THE DOWNSIDES OF AGING ARE PAINFULLY OBVIOUS. PHYSICAL CAPACITY INEXORABLY DIMINISHES. BELLIES SOFTEN. LOWER limbs gradually crumble. Some things dry out while others clog up. Details once easily remembered slip from an ever more porous mind.

And that's the easy stuff. Truly catastrophic time bombs tick ominously. We wait with trepidation for awful news, and shudder in sympathy as friends our age contend with the predicaments in which we timorously expect to find ourselves some dark day.

Is there any upside to the aging process? Can it be that the human life cycle might be structured so as to encourage the unfolding of surprising and welcome qualities as we mature into advanced years?

I have, to my own astonishment, been discovering something marvelous spontaneously emerging here that I scarcely expected, and toward which no elder gestured when I was young.

One sweet autumn afternoon I was jogging beneath the overarching limbs of beeches and poplars along a secluded country lane in a sleepy hill town in western Massachusetts. Shafts of sunlight filtered through the mosaic canopy overhead, dappling the honey-colored dirt of the road with a playful shadow dance. Abreeze now and then would lift some branches, exposing the glistening multi-colored undersides of myriad shuffling leaves. I felt like I was floating beneath a luminous whirlpool and found myself gasping in awe at the sudden chaotic sparkling panoply of yellow, orange, red, and green.

I happened to be listenmg on my iPod to a masterful performance of Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor performed by Itzhak Perlman and the Philadelphia Orchestra. As the Allegro Molto Appassionato crescendoed, it felt as if a knot that I had not known was tied inside my heart loosened and then fell apart. I nearly wept, or maybe did a little, not in sorrow but in transcendent j oy. As tears welled, a smile softened the creases of my face, and a wave of climactic laughter heaved my chest.

I slowed to a walk and watched, listened, and sighed my way through a cascading outflow of feelings far too sublime to adequately craft into words. Life seemed all at once so utterly beautiful, so achingly sad, so abundant with possibility. I felt a deep recognition that I am, and that each of us is, part of this mad, infinite, splendorous dance, all arising and passing away. Like the music, like the leaves, like these thoughts, like our lives- not ours at all, but features ofthe inconceivably immense cosmic drama. Such a rush of epiphanies encouraged by sunlight, autumn leaves, a gentle breeze, and a radiant concerto! …

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