October 20, 2014

MOSKOWITZ | The Change in the Leaves

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By HUNTER MOSKOWITZ

I have never really appreciated the changing of the leaves during the fall. Maybe it’s because I’m used to the burning reds, explosive oranges and shining yellows that arise from the forest and paint the landscapes in the north of the northeast. Sure, there is beauty in the dark intensity of the colors, in the collage they create, and in how they shine out below a setting sun, but I never feel captured by the foliage. Nature can be overwhelming, expansive and romantic. It can be calm, steady and silent. Some say it can feel very real and alive, while others seem to derive meaning in its nothingness. Yet at least for the brightening of leaves in the autumn, it’s not the colors that grant me significance, it’s the gradual change in the construction of the world around us.

Change is an interesting word. It is not advancement or progress or development. Yet it also does not carry the connotations of degeneration or deterioration. When the leaves turn from green to bursting to brown, we see the change in our eyes, we feel the change of the cool air on our skin and we smell the change as the lively aromas of summer fade away. In this way, change feels alive, it recaptures our senses, filling up our lungs with new breaths and our noses with crisp sensations. Yet at the same time, change feels mundane. We see the same array of color each year, bundle ourselves with the same warm and wool clothes and keep the cool air out by shutting the windows tight. Nothing changes at all, and since all we have is drops of time, little pockets of eternity, it means everything.

Change means new faces full of life, fully human, full of fresh existence that wander into our view. It means new ideas resting against our souls, conflicting and adapting to the ones that already endure inside of us. Yet I never really appreciated the changing of the leaves during the fall. Where does this place me? Am I stuck in-between colors, a green full of yellow, or a brown with dark red stains? Or am I an intense red, who if I took my finger nails and dug under the surface with slow methodical strokes, I would fine the lush green of early spring? Maybe I don’t know what I am at all.

That is change. It rearranges all the different boundaries and constructions we build. It may not topple them, but it puts them in different places, so that what was once so easy to navigate becomes a puzzle of places, people, and things. It never means we thought. What once was order, pure nature that felt real and alive or meant nothing at all, now seems twisted and turned like red and yellow leaves blown in the wind.

That’s why I hate change; it does not really tear us apart or break up all that feels connective. But in little places, the ones that seem to not matter, but matter the most, it replaces what we found comfortable with something shifting and fluid. It’s when the warm nights of summer becomes the crisp and cool autumn air. Yet at the same time, change fuels me. I want to see change around me, I want the world to take different shapes, I want to explore the unknown, see the dark intensity and find the beauty that was lost on me. That’s why I love change. It allows us to rediscover ourselves. Even with pieces missing or mixed-up or gone, the few new faces or ideas added to our mind creates a new world for ourselves. It’s waking up and looking at the foliage on the hillside, wondering if the shining yellows will bring a new day.

Hunter Moskowitz is a freshman in the International School of Labor Relations. He may be reached at hm376@cornell.edu.