Ten minutes ago, a solar eclipse began its process in the sky here in Toronto and other cities along this longitude. I decided to experience this astronomical event alone, meditating the wonder of such things while I listened to some peaceful music, Reflections of Nature, Zen and the Art of Relaxation. The sun is low in the sky now, but has not yet set. The lake looks cold and blue, the sky is clear, a few sailboats linger about before heading in to dock for the night.
I am continually inspired by nature, the tree canopy below my window, almost full in its fresh lush spring leaf. I picked a maple leaf off of a tree today, just to hold it and admire its newborn perfection, the perfect points, the almost translucent green delicacy of it. Year after year, the same trees budding out and forming these stunningly beautiful individual works of art by the millions. We take them for granted, all these leaves, as they start out so fresh-faced and hopeful before they are battered with wind and rain and the heat of the mid-summer sun and sometimes they war against more than the elements. They fall victim to insects, or disease and if they are lucky enough to make it to autumn, they begin to darken, dry out and crinkle.
But just before they eventually fall from their mother branches, most of them gather up the strength for one final show of beauty and resilience. They wow us with a show of the most spectacular colour, holding on now for dear life. "Look at me! Look at me! It has taken a life time for you to finally notice me!" And we do. We notice. We spend October in awe of these now elder leaves, breathing in the heady smell of ones already fallen, crunching beneath our feet as we pass under the trees that start to drop them. Brilliant reds, golden yellows, deep oranges.
Artists paint them, photographers capture them, small children jump and play in the raked piles of them. Their life has had meaning. They have brought joy to all those who notice them, to those who appreciate them and they will knowingly return in their next lifetime to do it again. They fear not the falling. They accept it as part of the journey. They were the lucky ones to survive what life dished upon them. They reached their goal.
If we were to ask these leaves - "Was it worth it?" Was it worth the strength it took to hang on, to battle the elements, resist the disease, suffer the insects chewing through bits of your perfect symmetry? I think they would wonder why we would even ask such a question as they softly fluttered to the ground, back to the earth whence they came, on their next journey to feed the earth, knowing another generation of leaves just like them would return again in six months, nourished by these, their fallen ancestors.
"But wait, was it the journey or the destination?", I would want to ask them. "What was the best part?" And they would reply, "without the journey, there is no destination...and a word of advice, their voices would echo as the breeze lifted them, carried them away...the journey goes quickly, don't miss it."