Sunday, October 3, 2010

On fall & the space between rungs

There is an energy that comes with fall, a cool that wakes up the brain, the body, the soul more fully than summer. Not unlike existential jumper cables.

For running it's banked that cooler temperatures lead to better runs--lighter legs, a curiosity to push a few more miles. But it's an aesthetic experience as well. On the trails in tidal marsh country, the bugs start to slack, poison ivy and damnable trail overgrowth pull back, leaves let go to open up the trail and give a view of what's around. Mid-Atlantic trail runs in the fall hold their own cool.

Fall means football, which has made me happy from the Bert Jones years of the Baltimore Colts, through the teamless vagabond years, into the purple Poe-inspired madness of the Ravens. Fall football is a shared passion in our house (even if for different teams).

From elementary school days, summer has been a time for letting the mind swing easily in a hammock or skip stones with its feet in the river. Relax and recharge. I think that continues into adultdom, whether or not we are conscious of it.

We're in the land of imperfect metaphors here, but fall is the time when the mind gets pull-started and has the leaves raked off it, in turn.

Ellen McGirt is a writer I dig. She writes about people, companies and ideas that move the word for Fast Company magazine. She was recently covering the Idea Festival through live tweets and was pouring forth listening to Phillipe Petit (high wire artist who walked between Twin Towers in the 70s).

McGirt's direct words summarizing Petit were "a ladder is two posts that has a 'festival of holes'--think space not rungs." This thought latched on to me, thinking not of rungs, but the space between. What is a ladder, after all, with no space between rungs, but a wall? And walls are much tougher to climb than ladders.

As I think about this fall and the busy-ness of it with kids in sports and dance and back to school and my wife back to teaching, I am going to cultivate the space between the rungs--those times like now, on a Saturday afternoon, as I sit barefoot on the back deck, scribbling in a notebook, alongside our dog who breathes heavily of the fall cool, nose in the breeze.

And I send thanks and props to fall, for hooking up the cables and giving my soul a jump.

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