I have pondered this little leaf since Friday. I suspect the question it raised has existed much, much longer. During a very rare actual lunch break, I sat outside to gaze at the mountains and hear the wind rustle through the trees.
I sat with hands opened in my lap. The little leaf executed a perfect landing into the palm of my hand. I didn’t see the fall. It’s presence known only when it landed in my hand. My laughter gave way to the question, “How do leaves know when to let go?” Autumn’s pallet of leaves, on the ground and those rustling in the trees, is so diverse in color and life stage. The spectrum’s breadth extends from the newborn green to the fragile and crisp brown that have long lost their life. How do they know when to fall?
I pondered Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary on autumn leaves who are never separate from the tree. Thinking I knew its destination, I gently placed the leaf next to the tree. When I returned later, the little leaf was nowhere to be found. I can accept I am not so wise as to know another’s destination or purpose, but still, how do they know when to fall?
As I looked where the leaf was not I bowed and held the whisper that perhaps that is the lesson of impermanence and change. Whether a gentle whisper or the bellowing winds of a hurricane, when the now or NOW is heard, we release. We release and dance knowing one destination may not be the destination. Whether the tree is of joy, happiness, success, or comfort or the tree of suffering, grief, poverty, and pain, we simply release. We do not cling. We may not see the next spring. We are all springs, all summers, all falls and all winters.
As I left I looked at an autumn tree, naked, save for two brown leaves clinging to one spindly branch. Maybe it’s not their time. Maybe they are clinging refusing to fall. I didn’t know and would not presume to know. I bowed to them and whispered for the grace to release with a joyfull dance while laughing Namaste! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! And may the Sweet Hands of Life be so kind as to let me land in another little hobbit’s hands and heart.