Not unlike every other introverted, Midwestern, millennial, my favorite season is autumn. So, I was pretty bummed to realize that I was going to miss out on the peak of the season while I was in Haiti. Thankfully, I arrived in Chicago last night and the weather definitely doesn’t suck.
This morning I put on a pot of coffee and went on a walk while I let it brew. The first thing through my mind as I started down the sidewalk was appreciation for a machine making my coffee for me, but it wasn’t long before thoughts of warm coffee were replaced by the beauty of Autumn.
I thought about how It’s no wonder fall evokes endless poems, songs, stories, and other art pieces. It’s the colors, the quiet, the fact that everything seems to be dying beautifully. As I was walking, I began to form thoughts about how we change with the seasons and every year is something new and all that jazz.
But I was also thinking about kicking myself in the face because how overwritten that post is. Fall is supposed to be about change, and change is supposed to be refreshing. Thankfully, before I could kick myself, I walked up to a skate park I had never seen before and was distracted by my own stories of skating when I was little.
I knew what I had to write about, I had to tell you this story. Not because there is some deep lesson in it, but because it’s my life. After this story, maybe I’ll get to the cheesy point behind it all.
I skated from about first to third grade. Sporting long hair and black tees, I really lived the skater kid life. However, in reality I was too small to really be any good at street tricks and too impatient to practice one trick till I got it. My one promising stat: I was stupid enough to be great on the big ramps.
Even though I couldn’t even really ollie, I was determined to jump the 7-stair at our skate park. I’d back up across the parking lot and run as fast as I could, then jump on my board and launch straight off the top stair at full speed. Somedays I would do this dozens of times before either I was too sore to move or my board broke. I never landed it.
So when third grade came around I got really into sports and quit skateboarding, trading baggy jeans for sport shorts. One day I just stopped, and for years I never did so much as pick up a skateboard.
The summer before my senior year in high school, I decided skating was cool again. I put my old board back together and started to skate through the neighborhood like my brother and I used to. It was strange, my body was different and I felt awkward on the board at first, but after a few weeks I had a solid ollie down and could do some tricks I could never do as a 6-year-old.
One autumn day last year, I rolled down to the skate park. I had been improving and was better than I ever was, but I still hadn’t tried the 7-stair again. It was a test for me, a monster that I’d never been able to beat. That day last autumn was a good day, the sun was shining, I had a bandana and sweatshirt on, and after skating around the park for an hour I worked up the same kind of courage I had in second grade. I tried to jump the stair set, and fell. I tried it again, fell again. This cycle repeated many times, more than I’m happy to admit.
Eventually some kid, probably half my age, skated up next to me and said something that was snarky and arrogant – I can’t remember exactly – then jumped the stairs like it was nothing, riding away smooth then coming back up next to me. A challenge was made.
That sunny autumn day last fall I faced the stair set and landed it, finally. The nine-year-old was standing at the top of the stairs, clapping his board on the cement to celebrate with me.
The trees around us display their change each year when they let their leaves fall. Those leaves are proof they are changing, stories of their work, stories they are sharing those with us every fall. We aren’t the same way, our change is in the stories we live, bottled up and not at all shared often enough. These stories remind each other we are alive, we are always changing, and we are moving through these seasons together.
Trees are neat and all, but how much more beautiful is a human sharing their stories. If looking at falling leaves gets you going, how about sitting across from your grandparents and listening to their lives.
Our leaves are stories, and our stories must be told.
(Title Credit to Jimmy Buffett)