Reluctance by Robert Frost
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last long aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question ‘Whither?’
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
This has been a strange year of changing seasons and moving on for me. Like the oak trees in my yard clinging to their faded leaves, I feel a little caught between seasons. I’m too young to consider this the winter of my life, but I’ve stepped into retirement ahead of my beloved and many of my friends. I’m certainly not unhappy, but in a way, I’m neither fish nor fowl.
Like most people I know, I resist change almost by reflex. I want to know I still have a purpose and can accomplish something every day. I want to know that all my friends and family are safely in their places. I want to know my keys are where I believe I left them. I want to know that the various mechanical and electronic devices I use will work the way they are expected to.
I don’t always get what I want.
My husband and I had a scanning project planned for this weekend. Thursday, I cleared space on my desk next to our high resolution scanner for him to lay out the documents he wanted to scan. I preset the scanner to save to a USB thumb drive with a clear folder name on it. When he got home, I showed him how to scan and save at various resolutions, and promised him access to the computer all day Saturday.
This morning, the scanner died. Hmmmph. Not only did this throw a monkey wrench into his plans, but it meant that my (9-year) old companion has to be junked and I have to learn to use a new scanner for the thousands of family photos I’ve been archiving. I did some quick online research, and we headed off to Office Depot, where for about $80 including tax we purchased a new scanner, earning 4.2 stars out of five online, complete with OCR, photo editing capabilities, and resolutions up to 4800 dpi. Trust me, these are good things.
After about half an hour of software downloads and experimentation, I was ready to retrain my beloved. Before I knew it, he had happily filled his thumb drive. Project completed. Crisis averted. As an added benefit, this scanner works with our newer computer and laptop, which the old one did not.
Not every change this year has gone so smoothly.
Although I am grateful to be retired, and to have left the madness of my job behind, I am sometimes a little lost in the morning – not quite sure yet how best to prioritize all this free-form time. I find I am using my Outlook calendar and synching it to my phone to suggest daily tasks and activities, and to keep me from getting lost in blogs or books. I’m finding a new rhythm.
More dramatically, this year we lost two old friends to cancer, and my mother to strokes. There is something so unsettling in knowing these beloved people can no longer be visited or reached by phone, email, or Facebook. They won’t receive my Christmas cards. My grandchildren won’t ever spend another Easter with my mother, and I won’t shop this year for a calendar with photos of Scotland for her to open on Christmas morning.
I have to let some more leaves go.
I have to move on to my new scanner, and my new lifestyle, and to the place in my life where the fresh losses of these loved ones are a reality. I know that as I move through the Autumn and Winter seasons of my life there will be more human losses close to me, both in affection and in age. As beautiful as these seasons are, they have this painful down-side. As I have done at other difficult times, I will trust in the higher plan and learn to accept what I can’t change, weaving all of these changes into my life.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11a, KJV
There’s no point in fighting it – just as there’s no stopping the change of seasons. Everything happens in its time.
This post was partly written in response to a WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge on the topic of Changing Seasons. To see other bloggers’ posts on the subject, click here.
For my previous ruminations (and a musical interlude) on the changing seasons in our lives, please see my Fall post: To Every Thing there is a Season.