Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The love of bare November days

I love this scene. The fleeting days when leaves like flames and gold dust scatter along the ground, where breathing in the Georgia air does not feel like a tourniquette clamped around your chest, where everything seems just a little more free and a little more alive.

There is something in these days which captivates the mind and allures the spirit; I cannot exactly explain what work these November days does in people, but I can say that I see it everywhere. I cannot recall ever meeting a person who would not admit to having some sort of love for the fall--even though the daylight hours grow shorter, even though the temperature is dropping, even though the falling leaves create a mess that many people insist on trying to "clean up" (not seeing, I suppose, the futility that I see in trying to counteract nature's instinctive and inevitable cycles). How many people get out during the autumn months, to go for a jog early in the morning, to attend fall festivals and corn mazes, to go for hikes, to do yard work, or just to get a breath of the fresh crisp air?

So many artists find the need to express their feelings about this time of the year--particularly writers, as I have observed. I cannot begin to enumerate the poems I have read which center around fall, the stories whose autumn settings do so much more than merely showcase the physical wonders of the season but connect them to the depths of the human soul. And even though it has been written about to the point of triteness, I still find this magnetic pull toward writing about autumn, and the things that it makes me think and feel. I have talked to countless other writers who have said the same thing; one girl said it best when she was explaining to me how she had come to write a poem about autumn and said, "I just couldn't not write about it."

Why is that? Why are we unable to not write about this season? Even though so much of it has been expressed before, why do we still feel compelled to express it again, in our own way?

I think that autumn presents a challenge to writers, because it does evoke something deep within us that we have a difficult time expressing. As someone who continually strives for mastery of verbal expression, I find myself constantly drawn to attempt to express the things which are so challenging to express, the things which are inexpressible. The things which are so beautiful and so complex because they are so simple and so natural, yet at the same time so inextricably tied to my heart that my mind has a difficult time sorting out those ties and composing a verbal arrangement of the sway they have over every detail of my life. I think that visually, metaphorically, spiritually, and on any other level you can imagine, autumn brings out a heightened sense of awareness and contemplation. It always represents a challenge to me, because I feel there is still so much that has been unsaid about the profound and symbolic beauty of the fall.

I know there is much that will never be said, can never be said. The most precious thoughts and feelings to me are the ones that are inexpressible, incomprehensible. I think that is something which is very dear to a writer; it means that there is something that I cannot master, something which I must be content to hold in humble reverence. It means there is a place in the human spirit to which I cannot lead others--to experience it, to know it, one must search and find it for oneself. I always say that I feel more alive during the fall than during any other time of the year. This, I think, gets at the heart of why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
the love of bare November days...

(Robert Frost, "My November Guest")