Fall is a time of year that I want to lasso ever-elusive time, hold it tight, and never let it go. I want to press pause, soak up every minute of every day, and never let the colors fade from memory. This is not your typical fall bucket list.
It is during these beautiful fall days that we are reminded to live in the moment. We know autumn will be gone before we even know it. The beauty of the fall season is finite and far too brief. It serves as a great reminder of how quickly time passes and the only way to embrace it all is to pay attention to what is right in front of you.
I remember sitting in a philosophy class in my early 20s, staring out the window of a beautiful, old-world style building. I was sitting in a traditional-style desk, about 10 per row. The hallways smelled musty and the aura of the room transported you back a century. All the windows were surrounded by dark brown hard wood trim. The ceilings were tall and the windows stretched from floor to ceiling, rounded on top.
The class was taught by a zen-like Buddhist professor who seemed to understand the entire world. In the middle of my third year of undergraduate school and majoring in accounting, the class was supposed to be a business ethics course. Probably Business Ethics 101 or something of that sort. I don’t think there was a single lecture given in that old world classroom that used the word “business”. Instead, an all-knowing Buddhist professor lectured weekly on philosophy, mindfulness, presence, and the state of “being”.
Mindfulness & Presence of Mind
I recall one lecture he gave in great detail about how to enjoy your food and be present while eating. My immature 20-something brain could not process how on earth any of this had to do with ethics, my major, or my life.
He spoke about the beauty and power of full engagement in any activity. He lectured on presence of mind and noticing absolutely everything, including the taste of every bite, while contemplating how the food was nourishing your body.
In hindsight, what appeared to be a useless course that had nothing to do with business ethics turned out to be one of the best classes I’ve ever taken, with lessons I remember to this day.
I can still picture that wise and worldly professor. I still hear the sound of his voice lecturing in that classroom. Nearly 25 years later, I remember his lectures, the smell of the classroom, and looking out the window noticing things that had always been there. I remember his words and I recall where I was sitting. I remember what I was thinking and feeling. There is a reason I remember everything about that professor, the classroom, and his philosophical lectures, yet I recall very little about how I felt sitting in my accounting and finance classes.
This professor’s lectures on what it means to be a human escaped me in my early twenties. Although I recall watching the antique clock tick by to pass the time, I did not fully appreciate his wisdom at the time. Yet his lectures permeated by memory bank in a way that no other course material did. More than two decades later and now in my forties, I wish I could sit down with that professor and spend hours with him. I have so much to ask.
A New Season
As summer rides off into the sunset, I would typically begin planning my fall bucket list and scheduling a bunch of fall activities. I often set goals that involve being super productive and accomplishing all of the necessary fall “to dos”.
Every new season brings with it what feels like an endless “to do” list. With the calendar flip to fall here in the northeast, the list is long – put away the porch furniture, close the pool, rake the leaves, mow the lawn for the last time, put the snow tires on the vehicles, sign your kids up for the winter sports, be sure everyone has coats, boots, hats and gloves that fit them, winterize this and winterize that.
Instead, this year I’ve made a different kind of fall bucket list. It’s one that includes being very intentional with the overarching goal of taking in all the colors, scents, tastes and emotions of this beautiful season. Every season is a renewal, a clean slate, a time for reevaluation and reset.
Even though my young mind was incapable of comprehending that professor’s deep wisdom, it all stuck with me. While he was teaching the principles of mindfulness and presence, I began to notice the world around me in an entirely new way. I listened more intently, I noticed sounds I would’ve previously ignored, and the entire world became a little more colorful. Everything took on a deeper meaning.
A Simple, but Meaningful Fall Bucket List
- Notice every color – the hue of the orange, the depth of the red, the vibrance of the yellow.
- Make time for important relationships in my life.
- Deepen my relationships with my children. Learn more about them each day.
- Be a better listener – pay attention to the nuance, the tone of voice, the emotion behind the words.
- Ask people open-ended questions to get to know them better.
- Slow down, make eye contact, tune in to people.
- Take time to be still, hear my own thoughts, and feel my own feelings.
- Enjoy all the meals of the season. Notice the depth of the flavors. Appreciate the effort that went into creating the meal.
- Take time each day to just be, not constantly do.
- Smell the rain, notice the wind, feel the crisp air.
- Watch the leaves as they fall from the trees.
- Appreciate all that I have. Practice gratitude. Journal about all that I’m grateful for.
- Take walks, notice how it makes my body feel.
- Write, create, enjoy the process.
- Drink the pumpkin spice latte. (Yep, it had to make the list.)
Sure, I want to light the autumn candles, make the apple crisp, and go to the fall festivals. I do. But this season, I’m going to savor and embrace it all at a depth that I may not have previously. I want to remember this season in the same way I remember that ethics class from many years ago.
As we create our fall bucket lists this year, let’s see if we can do so with a focus on being, instead of doing. Click here to read more about the health benefits of mindfulness.
Let’s ask ourselves the question – who do we want to be in this season?
Happy Fall ya’ll – embrace it all.
Melissa Therrien is the founder and author of Live Each Day, an inspirational lifestyle blog created to explore life well-lived.
Melissa offers programs designed to coach busy, motivated women to rediscover themselves and take action to pursue their passions.
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