by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D
It’s Fall and the woods are filled with brilliant colors of changing leaves, from yellows the color of pure gold, reds that stir the imagination, and oranges that remind me of a Harvest moon. The flushes of hues aren’t the only splendor of Fall; the pungent odors alert our senses that summer is over and winter is ready too soon to cover the ground. It is almost as if the forests entire existence waits for this one time of year to celebrate all that has come before. With all of these physical signs, I got to thinking of the traces we leave behind as we journey through our days. What are the colors of our fallen leaves?
If we are able to overcome all of life’s hardships; if we are able to embrace both the joys and sorrows, perhaps we will leave a special trace of humanity in the world. If we are able to feel a deep sense of gratitude for our being; if we are able to feel a sense of grace even while enduring horrible tragedies; and if, through all the anguishes, our hearts are not given to bitterness but can still remain open to humankind, perhaps we will leave traces of hope and courage.
Hiking the high mountain trails, the paths are covered with fallen leaves. It is as if we are truly on the “yellow brick road”, only this road doesn’t lead to a wondrous wizard. This road really leads back to us, for we are the real wizards of our life. There are no magic spells we possess to bring us more happiness and fewer challenges. No magic wand changes our predicaments or instantly showers us with extra money. You see the true magic is always how we choose to view each moment we live and what we give to others. The magic is not how much material STUFF we have, but how much of ourselves we share with others.
As warriors and families caring for wounded bodies and spirits our lives continually leave marvelous traces for others to view and possibly follow. We bequeath a conviction that determination to move forward and faith to move beyond the hopelessness is achievable. Every time one of our vivid leaves tumbles to the ground, we shower those around us with traces of optimism. Therefore, as we move through our time on earth, we should think about the traces we are leaving behind for others to glimpse and ask, “Are these the traces we want to leave”? Hopefully, our answer is, “Yes”. And maybe we are able to do so because we have been fortunate to follow the traces those before us have left for us to further pursue.