As beautiful as Hawaii is, I’m not sure I could live there.
The climate is the same year ‘round. I enjoy the crispness in the air when autumn sneaks into the atmosphere and by the time the first snowflake drifts across the lawn, I’ll welcome it just as I do the few leaves tripping across my driveway now.
I enjoy the change. It reminds me there’s a cycle to life — that I can’t and shouldn’t hold onto anything too tightly or I will squeeze the life right out of it.
If I catch the snowflake, it will melt in my hand just like the injured baby bird died in my hand when I was tiny. I felt sad thinking I had contributed to its death, even though it probably would’ve died anyway. Death was such a final thought to me back then. I’d heard about a place called Heaven where good people went, but I wasn’t sure I was good enough and the idea of dying scared me. Sometimes it scared me into being good, or at least, being the ornery angel that I am, better than I would’ve been naturally.
In my young mind, death wasn’t just a change of form — it was the guillotine that ended the cycle of life. The idea of change was reserved to the four seasons. The grassy fields died in the winter and I’d witness them grow back, but me … I doubted I would be resurrected so timely, if at all.
Now, nature’s rebirthing process inspires me to change, too. When the trees boast hues that Rembrandt himself couldn’t replicate, I want them to stay that way, but I know they can’t. There’s a rhythm in the tree that I can’t see. Scientists say there’s a process called photosynthesis that occurs in the summer which activates chlorophyll and makes the tree green. When it’s cold and there’s a lack of chlorophyll, the leaves lose their green color which signifies life.
But, oh, when they lose that green color, they are adorned with even more magnificent colors! The reds and yellows were present all along, but hidden by the prominent green.
A scientist I’m not, but I know that without the carbon-dioxide eating and oxygen-producing behavior of leaves, I wouldn’t even be able to finish this paragraph before I would cease to be.
In yoga, breath is called prana. Yogis practice pausing between the in-breath and out-breath as this may increase mental clarity and reduce stress.
As I hold my breath and consider that moment no new air is filling or emptying my lungs, I know that prana truly is all I have. It’s that moment of no breath that I began this life with, it’s the only “thing” I’m leaving here with. Air is really all I ever owned for even a second and it’s only on loan from the maker of the wheel of change. Like an old game show, Price Is Right, I am simply granted a certain number of spins on that wheel.
The concept of change reminds me of a recent best-selling book titled, “When Breath Becomes Air,” because the word “breath” signifies life just as the changing seasons remind me to breath in each moment, not worried about the change that’s coming, just accepting it as part of the spinning planet I’m on.
I often wonder if other people think about life and death the way I do and the thought makes me feel like I’m orbiting a different sun than others who are breathing here with me. But, it’s all cool. I’m an Aquarius and enjoy my peculiar peacock self and the characteristics that make me, me.
I only hope that when my final season brings forth the ultimate change, that my colors change just like the leaves, my feathers spanning an array of shades. I hope that, in dying, I do shine with the most vibrant display of light.
From the place where no air is required to breathe, I imagine a wind of change still blows and shifts reality, churning yet another challenge into gold.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio.