October Lane

By | September 29, 2022
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October Lane

There’s a road just outside of town called October Lane. It’s a country road that goes from nowhere to nowhere. Yet for many people, October Lane is home. During my lifetime, I’ve walked countless miles on October Lane. I’ve passed the farmhouses, the barns, the farm dogs, and the farm animals too many times to count, in every season of the year, in every kind of weather.

I’ve walked down October Lane in the bitter winds of January, in the fresh fragrant spring breezes of April, and in the stagnant windless heat and humidity of a lazy August day.

But the October Lane walks I remember most of all are the ones I’ve taken where my eyes were dazzled by the capricious colors of the autumn leaves; trees painted beautifully by an unseen Artist in the middle of October — in the heart of Autumn.

As I walk along — and more slowly than my usual pace — I hear the rustling of the painted leaves as they sway precariously on a hearty October wind. Some of them, weakened by the chilly wind, can no longer grip the branches tightly enough and so they fall swirling and swooping through the air and land, unceremoniously and without a sound on the still-green grass.

I think to myself, as I gaze upon the glorious and dazzling display before me, that this autumn the leaves seem brighter and more colorful than I’ve ever seen them before. Then I laugh at my thoughts because I think the same thing every autumn.

And as I walk down October Lane on this quiet October day, amazed at the beautiful scenery surrounding me, a thought occurs to me and that thought carries me away to another time and place deep inside of me that no one else can see but me.

As my eyes are dazzled by dancing autumn leaves, deftly clinging to the branches of the old maple, sycamore, ash, and birch trees that line this old, thinly paved road. In the quiet place inside, I think about the evanescent nature of our lives and of our loves – and of all of the things we think are important to us.

And, though I’ve had these thoughts many times before, nothing makes it plainer or clearer, and nothing touches my thoughts and feelings more than realizing, on a day like today, that the only thing that makes anything valuable is its scarcity.

The days of our lives, even if we live for one hundred years, are scarce in number. The sun and stars we always take for granted – and most days don’t even notice – shine for trillions of days – while we and those who we love shine for only thousands of days – even if we live a hundred years.

I calculate in my swirling mind that one hundred years equals about 36,500 days -give or take a few leap days. The sun is 1.6 trillion days old. Compared to the sun, the days of our lives are but an infinitesimal flicker – a meaningless and inconsequential tick on the cosmic clock.

And all the things that touch our hearts, the things that break our hearts, the births, the deaths, the struggles, the victories, the defeats, the sorrows, the joys – everything that means anything to us– occur during one flickering tick on the grand cosmic clock.

Our days are scarce, yet we don’t often treasure them… not really. We wake each morning and it’s another day until that morning comes when the world goes on without us, barely noticing we are gone.

The only way we can live on is in the memories and the hearts of those who care about us and love us. How terrible it would be to leave this world without anyone to remember us.

Love is all that matters. We can only live beyond the paltry number of days that we are given by staying alive in the memories of those who love us.

And there is far too little love in this world. We all share the same Earth. We all breathe the same air. Every one of us is born and every single one of us will die. We all have more in common than we like to think. We have so much in common and that should bring us together. But instead, too many of us emphasize the differences between us, and that can tear us apart.  You and I and everyone else share so much, and still love is far too rare on this pale blue dot upon which we spend the entirety of our lives.

I think of love and life, of beginnings and endings, of family and friends… And then, as if waking from a dream, I realize I’m two miles further down October Lane. I hear a dog barking in the distance – it’s the only sound other than the autumn breeze and the swaying of freshly painted leaves. My footsteps crunch on the fallen leaves that line the edges of the road.

These beautifully colored leaves won’t be with us very long. They will all have fallen, their bright colors faded to a dull brown, just dried and dreary dead leaves lining the edges of October Lane – unnoticed, dishonored, and dead.

So, today I will breathe in the chilly autumn air and take in the beautiful autumn scenery. It won’t be long before the trees change into brittle and bleak skeletons, standing stark in the black and white landscape of winter – creaking and cracking unnoticed and unloved in the harsh winter winds. 

And when I walk down October Lane on some snowy, brutally cold January day, I won’t even notice the skeletons that line the Lane – and I know I won’t remember the bright, green leaves of summer nor the colorful countenance they now wear on this exceptional October Day.

My lonely autumn walk down October Lane, lined by the blazingly beautiful trees, reminds me that the days of our lives are scarce…and that’s what makes each one of them – and each one of us – so special.

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