The trees just know when to let go. Their leaves dance and thrive in the heat all summer long. Their branches sway back and forth. The cool weather comes and the trees show their bold, vibrant colors before going dormant for the winter. Then one day, after turning brown and dry, the leaves drop, and dance in the autumn breeze, only to return back to the earth.
The trees don’t hold on, for fear that another beautiful leaf won’t come again one day. They simply know, that in time — after retreating, resting and going within — the leaves will be ready to show their external beauty once again.
It is the trees’ nature to know that there is deep wisdom in letting go. That growth comes with change. And that the only way to make space for new leaves is to release the old ones.
Adapting to change, flowing and letting go comes naturally to a tree. We have the ability to adapt and let go as the trees do – with the ease, peace and awareness that change is the very nature of life.
What makes us different from trees is that the crazy tug of outward distractions and chaos of daily life in our modern society is one that knocks us off our natural rhythm. We get off course. We lose touch. And we forget that life really is a dance — a series of rhythmic movements and steps that change over time. When we fight and resist the changes that come, we get tripped up. When we hoard and hold on to the things we are too afraid to let go of, we miss the opportunity to see the new beauty, growth and vibrancy that is yet to manifest.
When we move further away from our own natural rhythm, we tend to see ourselves separate from nature, rather than one with it. It’s probably why so many of us feel the desire to return to nature as a way to commune and connect to what matters most in life. It’s also probably why my husband and I are choosing to move our family to a place surrounded by trees, green space and water. We want to feel connected to nature each and every day.
We are moving to a new home for the first time in 10 years. And I’m noticing that although I’m really excited about the possibilities of this new space – having some land, more trees, a huge garden that are all near a small lake — I’m still scared! What will our new neighbors be like? What if this new house is way more work than we had planned? What if we don’t sell our old house? What if I discover that all this purging and give-away of my “stuff” leaves me feeling like I don’t have enough? What if we are making the biggest mistake of our lives?
All these fears are legitimate. In fact, having fear is also part of our nature. But with each new step, we must practice dancing through the fear and the uncomfortable feelings that come with change. If we never move through the fear, we don’t allow ourselves the chance to change and grow. We must release, surrender and let go of the things we are holding on to that prevent us from moving forward. We must find our way back to our center and dance like a tree – adapting to each new song. Getting quiet. Being still. Standing tall. Swaying and bending, moving and flowing. Connecting to the place within that grounds us, and guides us to the next, natural step.
Autumn is full of great hidden treasures. Enjoy the beautiful colors as the leaves change. And then watch. Notice. Listen. Recognize the inner strength of the trees as they drop their leaves. And remember that you, too, have the wisdom to let go of all the old thoughts, behaviors, physical things and emotions that no longer serve a positive purpose for you now and for your future. Notice if you are holding on to things because you are fearful you will never get them back, or fearful of what might come if you do.
Dance like a tree. And trust that the real gifts come when you find the courage to let go.
Shannon Kinney-Duh is an artist, writer, teacher and creator of A Free Spirit Life. She’s been married to an awesome, creative guy for almost 10 years, and she’s a happy mama to 2 young boys. When she’s not making snacks or raking big piles of leaves to jump in, she creates e-courses like Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery. You can learn more by visiting her here.