We often think of Fall as a time of harvest; the season in which we gather up, store up, and enjoy the fruits of summer’s bounty. But perhaps one of the greatest gifts of Fall are its lessons in letting go. (After all, it’s hard to harvest what won’t let go.) In autumn, apples fall from bent branches. Trees let go their leaves. Pumpkins separate from their vines. And, among humans, children leave their parents for school.
We can learn much about letting go by observing nature in the Fall. For example, timing can be a big part of letting go. Pluck a ripe apple from a branch and it is removed with ease. Pluck the same apple a month earlier and you may get part of the branch with it. We are not a lot different. It is easier to let go of some aspect of our life when it has reached its natural completion. But if we try to move on before it has reached this stage we can short-change, if not injure, ourselves. Let go of a relationship too soon and you may later wonder if you did the right thing. Let go of a dream too soon and you may never find your home.
On the other hand, there are also examples of ripened fruits which cling to the tree or vine too strongly and too long. The time may be right for separation, but they have difficulty letting go. As a result they may go unharvested and begin to decay where they cling. This can happen to us when we are out of synch with our deeper self and the seasons of our soul. Sometimes we hang onto certain attitudes, beliefs, habits, or goals too long because we are afraid of falling and letting go. We fear the unknown and the unfamiliar. When this happens we may become depressed, drained by the conflict of opposing viewpoints and urges.
So how do we know when it’s time to hold fast and when it’s time to let go? Like the leaf that falls from a tree, this is primarily an individual matter. It often involves quieting our minds so that we can listen to our heart, our gut, or (preferably) both. The right answer will usually carry more energy and will lead out of depression to new life. The act of letting go, though sometimes bitter-sweet, should feel like coming home.