Reflections On the Leaves of Autumn
By Bart Vogelzang

This is the time of year in which the hustle and bustle of life seems to slow, and all life seems to be in a sort of ‘winding down’ stage. Leaves are turning to colors not seen since last year, deep reds, vivid yellows, and dusky browns. The slightest puff of wind will knock hundreds of them flying, to drift slowly down onto the ground. There they may swirl around in windy whirligigs, finally to softly land upon the waters of a slow moving creek.

As the leaf, like a tiny little boat, moves downstream, we notice it stopping, and seeming to be hesitating about what to do. Then, so slowly as to be barely noticed, it begins returning upstream. Fascinated, we can gaze upon it, making its way seemingly against the natural progression of things. It is not alone. There are dozens of them, congregating into little clumps, making their way back to what was, back to where they used to be.

It is a back eddy. The currents of the stream are hitting invisible obstacles, shallow shelves under the surface, roots, or sunken trees. The waters move in strange ways, but nobody can really notice those until autumn leaves reveal them.

Over and over again those leaves move back to where they started, but eventually one of them breaks free of their cluster, and makes its way into the main stream, once again progressing along its predestined path. But wait, what is this? It is no longer moving, seemingly captured in another eddy, a much larger one than before, and it heads once again backwards, against the natural progression.

Whilst caught up observing this beauty of bright reds and yellows against the dark, nearly black waters, highlighted occasionally by reflections of bright blue sky, the parallel with human existence, astounds me. The creek is very much the progression of humanity, inexorably moving forward, moving each individual on to new and astounding adventures.

Some, like leaves in an eddy, stop for a while, and then move backwards, defying human progress. They return, at least for a while, to what was. They rejoice in the old ‘traditional’ ways. For a while they are content with drifting in a constant circle, with no advancement. Eventually though, they get dragged into the current of mainstream humanity. They may get caught up in another eddy, but eventually that one will also release them. There really isn’t any choice. Each back eddy will eventually let them go, with the only exception being those who wash up against the shore to descend into fetid decay, alone, no longer even aware of the rest of us moving forward.

©2011 Bart Vogelzang All Rights Reserved