Today is our 25th Wedding Anniversary so it’s a day of reflection on the flow of life as we push into our Autumn together:
And how could I not include this dog-eared quote from one of Dad’s many books of Humorous Quotations? (After all, he and Mother lived to see 60 years of married bliss!)
Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to the restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes on Tuesdays, I go on Fridays. (Henny Youngman)
I was lost in the beauty of Mount Congreve Gardens last Thursday when a couple, who were probably in their late sixties, stopped me and the man asked politely:
Do you know where you’re going?
I struggled to come back to reality and while halfway there said:
Yes, do you?
The pair looked at me as if I was a bit daft and explained that they weren’t sure which path to take to get back to the car park. I had no difficulty giving them directions and they went happily on their way.
Wandering along the dappled path, I pondered on the many layers to the question: Do you know where you’re going?
It seems to me that some people make a very conscious effort to map out their lives from a relatively young age and visualise the paths or highways that they will take. In lots of cases, their journeys unfold as they have envisaged them. Others who adopt this strategy find themselves derailed by circumstances and have to make major adjustments.
And there are others who don’t have a set vision of where they are going but decide as they go along. Yet again, this approach can have mixed outcomes and probably involves a fair bit of going off the beaten track.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I certainly don’t know where I’m going nor am I fully sure how I’ve arrived here. But I’m definite about one thing: there is a glorious magic associated with embracing uncertainty.
I made a very conscious decision yesterday to step out and welcome Autumn. I had been trying to convince myself that I was only imagining that the leaves weren’t quite as green as they had been and that the darker evenings were because there was a bit of a sea mist.
Mount Congreve Garden here in Co. Waterford seemed the obvious place to go and on the drive there I was thinking about Autumn of Life and how easy it is to go into denial about that too, rather than see the magic which it can weave and that we can weave within it.
Autumn is generally seen as a time when both the days and year are closing in. If we view life in seasonal terms, the Autumn of life is a time when the innocence of childhood and the colourful exuberance of young adulthood are behind us but we have both energy and a wealth of experience with which to enjoy life. There is a danger, though, that the mind can run ahead towards winter and the inevitable ending of our time.
One of the wonders of Autumn, for me, can be found in woodlands as night is falling. Last evening, I was walking in Newtown Wood, which is just outside Tramore in Co. Waterford. It was getting dark and I was mesmerised by the way in which the shedding trees were allowing the last moments of daylight to pour down on the carpetted woodland floor.
Looking upwards, the undressing trees where revealing their magnificent shapes with wondrous and powerful clarity. The patterns that were presented to me in this natural movie were infinitely intricate and totally convinced me that Autumn is a time which has endless possibilities and openings that we may never have even contemplated before.
The following lines from The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde, which I first learned in the early Summer of my life, came flooding back like the stream that was gushing through Newtown Wood to meet the sea:
I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky