For many of us, the transition from spring to fall brings melancholy and thinly-veiled fear — in life and in long-term care.
Part of it must be the word itself, and its negative associations. To rise is to be powerful; to fall is to fail. Perhaps that’s why Brene Brown wrote “Rising Strong,” not “Falling Helpless.”
In a nursing home, “Fall!” is one of the most feared warning exclamations in the lexicon, just behind “Surveyors!” “Plaintiff attorney!” and “Rabid squirrel loose in the activity room!”
As a profession, fall is also when the night-sweat anxieties of an impending new and unpredictable year make increasingly regular visitations.
So it’s no wonder we’re uneasy. Certainly those falling leaves in autumnal months are pretty, but we know their transformation is fueled by decay and death — not exactly an encouraging metaphor.
In “Let Your Life Speak,” Parker Palmer reflects on the seasons, and reminds us that even life’s most unwelcome changes produce the fertile ground in which something new and beautiful can grow. Through the brutal biological necessity of fall and winter, “the conditions for rebirth are being created.”
Case in point: Out in my garden, while I’ve been ruing the sad demise of a once-beautiful milkweed plant, it opened those dry, ugly pods and scattered seeds via tiny white parachutes, any of which might someday sustain a monarch butterfly.
“Autumn reminds me that my daily dyings are necessary precursors to new life,” Palmer says. In other words, the falls make the springs possible, the failures fertilize the triumphs.
Maybe the autumnal demise of long-familiar systems and processes across the long-term care spectrum will reanimate our profession, and enrich the lives of those we serve.
Rising from fall in the warmth of spring, we’ll be better than ever before.
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the 2014 American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) awards program.