On Fall

Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one to ask why.

Bernard Baruch

At work we have a lot of white boards, and by “a lot” I mean that we have about 16 of them lining the halls, offices, and conference rooms. They range from 3 by 4 feet, up to 4 by 8 feet. My boss has a penchant for them, and he insisted they cover the walls so that we can “brainstorm” as a team. So far, we only use two of them to note materials that need to be ordered and our weekly schedule of events. The rest go unused, unless my boss is in town, and then the 64 square feet of white boards in the large conference room can be found peppered with his thoughts and drawings on varying aspects of our project.

My white board is not the dry erase kind, it’s a sheet of paper. Not the lined kind–that is already imposing structure-but the blank printer paper that is 8.5 by 11 inches. On days when I am feeling inspired, I go to the printer in my home office and take out 3 sheets. No more, no less. Three is one of those numbers I find magical, and with three sheets of paper I think, I will create something meaningful. I take a pencil, freshly sharpened, and write out my thoughts. Sometimes it is the solution to a technical problem, sometimes it is vacation planning, other times it is a diagram of my home where I move around furniture to place it just so. I may sketch out a nature scene, or make a bullet list of chapters outlining a novel I’m always writing, but never seem to finish. And sometimes, it is a letter, to a loved one or close friend, and my thoughts are written down in my hybrid block-cursive script, with the sentences gently slanting downward as the images and ideas tumble from my brain to the physical realm. I lose time, and I find pleasure in the feel of the pencil pressing on the paper, the graphite flowing as an extension of myself.

The traditional beginning of the year is usually celebrated as Jan 1, New Year’s Day. But for me, the new year starts with the new school year. As a child who spent so much of her life immersed in books and learning, the start of September in New England marked the start of a fresh beginning. New teachers, new subjects, new books, new pencils, new notebooks, new clothes, new people (well, not really in my school, where we were bucketed by academic achievement and pretty much you saw the same 15-20 people every class, from 7 to 12th grade, perhaps excepting in electives.). Everything was fresh, which was ironic since there was the unmistakable scent of decaying leaves as the spectacular display of colors was just beginning. Falls in New England are something to behold, and to me, there is no where fall is more beautiful than seeing the hills filled with trees the color of sunset. The leaves harken rest for the landscape, a time to prepare for renewal after a long dormant winter’s end. A time to get to work, deep within oneself, to gather and gain stores of knowledge and tools to use to grow when the sun becomes warm and the days longer once more. For me, this continual cycle reflects the change we all undergo as we continue to add rings to our trunk that roots us to our foundation. The leaves are transient expressions, like the thoughts on paper, that come and go as we journey through life. And like a blank sheet of paper, the fall brings with it endless possibilities to create something new.

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