Yesterday, I watched a leaf dressed in orange, red, and yellow let go its hold of the mother tree and spin lazily to the ground. A leaf,when green, I barely noticed. Watching its descent, I marveled at the grace frozen in that simple moment. No struggle, no effort to delay the journey, the leaf simply let go. The green leaves whispered goodbyes as it danced downward pass them limb to limb before breaking free beneath the canopy. It spun, dipped, and hovered over color clad siblings waiting in loose piles; piles until now I had barely noticed. Settling, it lent its color to the harvest hues of others, and there it lay stirred only by the slowly dissipating murmurs of its brothers and sisters turned brown at the edges. The leaf, when green, I barely noticed – the one I took for granted – closed its eyes and slept.
Today, I chose to stay glued to my cell phone while visiting with family. There was nothing they were saying we wouldn’t talk about later. Whatever special memories I might have made today could be made up tomorrow. My family, I took for granted. Today, I chose to go fishing with buddies and miss my daughter’s recital. There would always be another I could go to later. Whatever special memories I might have made today could be made up tomorrow. My daughter, I took for granted. Today, I failed to call my parents just to say I love you. It was nothing I had not said a million times that I could not say later. Whatever special memories I might have made today could be made up tomorrow. My parents, I took for granted. Today, I chose to be miserable and unthankful. I felt like wallowing in self-pity; I could be thankful later. Whatever special memories I might have made today could be made up tomorrow. My life, I took for granted. Unlike the leaf sleeping at journey’s end, I chose sleep as my journey.
Life is at its fullest when we live to make memories with those that matter. When the leaf was green and full of life, I barely noticed it at all. I missed it budding, the first time it celebrated the warmth of sunlight, its first taste of rain, and the spider that wove its web from its stem to the branch. I took it for granted. Not until, by chance, I caught the leaf’s last dance did I understand the finality of waiting for tomorrow – tomorrow can never replace the warmth and joy of the present. The time to embrace family, friends, and even a leaf is before each becomes a memory. As sad as it may be, candles often burn out before tomorrow.
©Jack Linton, October 31, 2016