Seasons are the most beautiful analogies for the course of our lives. As nature slowly braces itself for winter, it shows its most beautiful colours in a last spectacular display that is called Autumn, for there is nothing more soothing and romantic than bright, red, golden leaves shimmering in the sun, falling silently from their trees and carried away by a light autumn breeze. Sometimes they form breathtaking, ephemeral golden paths into which walking seems to become an otherworldly experience. Autumn is such a moment in life. Each year, it teaches us the art of letting go, and shows us the beauty of seeing a cycle of life come to an end, with the assurance that we will know the joy of seeing a new one beginning, again. It teaches us to welcome both inherent happiness – the bright colors – and melancholia – after all, they’re dying leaves – and to embrace those emotions, with the promise that life, although altered, will blossom again.
Life as an expat is full of autumns, is full of leaving things and people behind. Perhaps, even, being an expat means that one has to let go of things and people forever. But no, that is the nature of life itself, maybe this becomes just more obvious when one’s life and heart lies in two, three or more different cultures, different countries. Which one is home, more than the other? Wherein lies our happiness? Is there a choice to make and will it ever become clear, or is that state of limbo in fact that choice itself – and will last forever?
Autumn teaches us to let go, it shows us that there is no such thing as forever, for better or for worse. There is a finitude to all things, to us even, but therein also lies the promise of the renewal of them, and of us all, because life is a cycle. There are choices to be made, decisions to be taken, a path to point at and follow, but even the strongest doubts eventually get answered. So there is no analogy for life soother, brighter than autumn, as it tells us: what’s dying will be born again.
Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.
Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde
aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.
Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.
Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.
Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen
unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1902, Paris.