Twelve weeks ago, I excitedly charged onto the kickball field ready for Game 2 of a charity kickball tournament. The Workforce Warriors already had a win on the board and we felt confident entering the second round. Dirt edged into our sneakers, with our coworkers and family members cheering us on from the sidelines, my teammates and I were in sync and ready to tell the next team to go Bye, Bye, Bye! Who doesn’t love a good boy band reference? C’mon you know you do.
As Game 2 began, we were locked in a competitive start when it happened. The kicker made contact with the ball sending it high and fast up in the air. It was a flying, rolling boulder of a ball and it was dropping straight down near second base. My eyes quickly surveyed the field to see which of my teammates was ready to score our next out. But then I had a revelation, that in fact I was standing over second base. Only one conclusion came to mind: It’s Gonna Be Me. Told ya.
As I reached out into the open air, it was more of a crash than a catch resulting in a drooping middle finger. A couple of hours later, I had a splint on my finger and my summer was off to a poor start.
A month later, I found myself lying out on the beach with friends for a weekend getaway. It was warm. It was cool. I was toast. My comfort betrayed me. I had bad burns all over my legs and back. Strike two. One month to the day of the splint, I got burned. With bad burns and a splint, I was about to exchange my swim trunks in for a pumpkin latte and call it a season.
Skin peeling and finger aching, I was changing. My body was healing and I was too. Small albeit persistent setbacks require adaptation. My mind needed to be as resilient as my body. Perhaps being too relaxed, too comfortable is a bad thing. A deeper inner desire for change manifested itself in careless activity resulting in a subtle but constant reminder that my normal was no longer enough. Could this be real? Or an ordinary man seeking the extraordinary in his ordinary existence?
During autumn, leaves turn various colors as they prepare to fall. Shades of yellow, purple, orange, red and blue. Colors blooming and varying by tree and shrub. Red, rose, pink, peach, white are the colors of my skin as it breaks layer upon layer. Blue the veins that compose a vine for them to rest. My leg but a branch upon which they fall. Leaves fall as they are no longer needed. My old skin birthing a new inhabitant: me.
As summer neared its end, I drove West Coast with friends. At a chocolate shop, we ordered ice cream. I wore jeans to cover my foliage. I got a malted milkshake. When asked to molt or malt, choose both. While growing pains are uncomfortable, there’s no reason not to enjoy it. Maybe summer didn’t turn out as I had planned. Instead, I learned that it is important to adjust and that the season to come will be ripe for change. Timing matters. A new me ready now more than ever to fall.
Lean back into your big pile of leaves and look up. Stare into that distant sky and see who stares back at you. If it’s hard to see, fall harder. Leave the old parts of you no longer needed behind. This autumn is for you and why shouldn’t it be?