If I were an olde English person, I’d write, “Autumn is icumen in, lhude sing cuckoo!” If I were Ezra Pound, I’d write, “Autumn is icumen in, Lhude sing Goddamm!” But since I’m just a small town newspaperman, I’ll simply write “It’s autumn – I think.” Or to paraphrase William Blake who was “stain’d with the blood of the grape,” it feels about time to “Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers” doesn’t it?
More to the point, I can’t go anywhere without wearing a dark blazer and so, sweating out much of spring and summer, I’ve been long in my longing for the crisp breeze and overcast days of fall. Let us reflect on autumn and its balmy majesty for a moment … Done? Good. Now, let’s get the facts.
Since I do more Google searching than soul searching, it probably serves me right that my query on the autumnal equinox led to Belsebuub.com, a site whose editor uses his online time “Connecting the Sacred Spirituality of the Universe” while everyone else is looking at LOLCats. According to Belsebuub, which is actually the name of the dude’s “spirit/soul/consciousness,” the “autumn equinox is the time of balance between day and night, before night takes over and brings the coming winter, a time of darkness and death.”
The fact that this moment lands precisely at 9:49 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 22 in Sonoma this year is too perfect to resist commenting upon. This is the time that the corks usually start popping around here and also when “darkness and death” will occur for a few million brain cells. I used to worry about this until I learned about “neuroplasticity,” which, besides evoking images of my brain being made of Silly Putty, is the theory that my brain is also mutable and might continue to learn and grow rather than atrophying into a wee grey marble that I’ll eventually lose. I find it rolling around my pillow some mornings and have often wondered if would really matter if I hadn’t.
If you divvy up the human lifespan into quadrants of 20 to 25 years or so and ascribe a season to each, it would seem my generation, the so-called X Generation, is entering its autumn years. Summer is over and spring was so long ago it’s a wonder the student loan people can still find us. This is the time of our lives when we really begin to feel the fall. Inasmuch as the days are growing shorter, they’re also growing fewer. And our minds more feeble.
Allegedly, one can mediate one’s mental meltdown through meditation, which I’ve tried. To bring some simplicity to my life, I thought I’d meditate on a rudimentary image – a black dot on a white field of nothingness. I thought of it, typographically, as a period, the punctuation of mindfulness. The black dot served me well until I found one lurking at the bottom of a coffee cup I had plucked from my car’s cup holder. Stuck to the bottom of it and staring back at me was a black dot on white but in the form of a googly eye. This came courtesy of some stuffed animal injured by my kid and as I looked at it and it looked at me, I realized my “third-eye” is a googly eye. I haven’t meditated since.
The term equinox comes from the Latin for “aequus,” or “equal” and “nox,” meaning “night,” which describes the brief period when our planet’s two hemispheres receive an equal amount of rays and night and day become approximately the same length. It has tasty symbolic implications too.
As Belsebuub observes: “This duality between light and dark exists within humanity … and all those who long for light must firstly face their own inner darkness and overcome it.”
Or to put it in Sonoma-speak, before you drink the white wine, you must first drink the red. So, raise a glass to autumn and sing goddamm, goddamm, sing!