Fall is fast approaching, and not a moment too soon for those of us braving what hopefully are the last few weeks of muggy heat. As we transition out of summer's bright bounty of tomatoes, peppers, and watermelon and into the comforting squash and apples that keep us through the season of gathering and family, we should also look at the things we hold close in the fall.
Farmers devote themselves year-long to the cultivation of their crops and animals. Their sacred calling is the mindful and caring discernment between that which nourishes their land, and which others simply deplete the precious energy necessary for a successful harvest. Light, air, and water, are of course essential for life, but the farmer must diligently cut out opportunistic weeds that seek to steal away from the crops' resources.
With the recent emergence of minimalism, the word cultivate has been making the rounds online; the idea that we should consciously bring things into our lives, or leave them out, based on their ability to serve our passions and goals. This really is a reemergence of the simple and thoughtful way of life our ancestors knew. Yet in an age of availability and access to everything in an instant, our lives have become more about collection. We collect trinkets and gadgets, clothes and food, money, and even ideas on a whim. Collection and cultivation can seem very similar, but collection is missing the discernment of the farmer.
When we seek to choose cultivation over collection, it means choosing very carefully the things we allow in our homes (ownership of everything we think we want is not a goal that serves a joyful life). Cultivating a life of purpose instead of a life of acquisition can allow us to value more what we already have. More than just reducing clutter, cultivation requires mindful pruning of other thieves of energy and resources. Common weeds can be too much technology, ceaseless hectic schedules filled with extracurriculars and clubs, or imbalanced time investments between home and work. Weeds are unique to each of us, but we all struggle with different temptations and distractions.
Fall is welcoming the moments of holiday meals, family visits, and cozy days in (or out in fallen leaves) with those we love. Let's take this new season as an opportunity to reflect on how we can move away from a life of collection in favor of one that's mindfully cultivated to include our essentials while pruning away that which does not bring joy to our homes.