“Autumn Blues”. It’s a 1960 piano instrumental by Bobby Darin. It’s also an apropos title for this time of year seeing as autumn has just arrived and can bring about some of those blue feelings.

There are several reasons for that. Life gets busier, days get shorter, weather gets colder, and leaves get shaken from the tree.

Life gets busier

Maybe it already seems that summer was long ago. It was a time of lax schedules filled with family vacations and late nights outside. No one really had to be anywhere except wherever it was they wanted to be. However, with September came autumn. With autumn came a return to schedules. Kids went back in school. Wake-ups and bedtimes returned, as did homework and after school activities. We got busy again.

And now we’re in October. Routine is the rule and we move with more purpose. We stride rather than stroll. At first it seemed nice to feel a sense of rhythm again. We approached autumn with a feeling of vitality, refreshed with newfound vigor. We probably told ourselves that we’d finally get to the things we didn’t have time for in the summer. But in fact we now find ourselves even busier and more overbooked, somewhat overwhelmed as we anticipate the approaching holidays.

Shorter days, colder weather

Already days are getting shorter. The calendar is moving closer to the winter solstice. Clocks soon will be turned back, which means that people will leave the house and return home in the dark.

Yes, life is getting darker… and colder.

It’s harvest time, the end of the growing season; time to reap and scythe and whittle away, downsizing to get to the essential. “Simplify, simplify, simplify”, we hear Henry David Thoreau say. At home it’s the opposite. We gather… leaves, firewood, blankets. We seek warmth. Inside or out, we’re bringing in and turning inward.

Seasons change

Autumn is a time of reflection and introspection. We can see the various stages of life when we look down to see the colored leaves. Strangely, that might make us feel a bit down as we look back on the seasons of our own lives. We’re not so green any more. Like the changing leaves that flutter, much has changed while on our own personal journey.

During no other time of year do we make that link. In spring we’re too full of energy after being cooped up for so long. Summer is spent with kids and summer holiday. Winter – well, no one wants to confront that life parallel. So we’re left with autumn.  It’s now that we let go of the past and prepare for the future, tying up loose ends. Survival is our modus operandi.

Our biological clocks are adjusting for this change as well, but it isn’t easy. We might find it harder to wake up in the morning and stay awake at night. In parallel, leaves fall and we recall how they budded in spring and will bud again in six months’ time. It’s all so cyclical.

It’s also a reminder that autumn is the dying season on the ever-turning Ferris wheel of life. Thus it seems quite normal to feel the blues. And if you do feel them, don’t hide under the covers or try to run away. Embrace them. Face them head on. We spend so much time trying to avoid those dark feelings. This time, dive in. The autumn blues are nothing but another emotion in life’s deep, rich, colorful pile of leaves.

They depart                                    

In the various stages of their lives

                    — yellow, gold, orange,      

                    barn door red —

Some green,                              

some so curled and brown

You’d be forgiven to think       

they never lived.

Text and poem by Dan Franch, September 2013.