It's only a few weeks until the "official" fall season sets in...Autumn Equinox is just around the corner, regardless of the still 80 degree weather we have been experiencing here in Seattle this summer. Actually, this particular summer has been one of the driest seasons on record here in the Puget Sound Region...forest fires are abundant and the usual Emerald City has turned shades of brown and yellow...not exactly what the tourists were hoping to see!
Working in the mental health field for the past 20 years gives me license to have all kinds of theories about human nature and human behavior...I've certainly seen plenty of both over the years and I've certainly EXPERIENCED plenty of my own "nature and behavior" over the past 42 of my life. I have a particularly interesting theory about nature and the seasons however, and fall is one of my favorite times to spout this topic out...I enjoy the topic so much it may sound like a bit of verbal masterbation, if you will, so bear with me! LOL
Homo sapiens are thought to be higher evolved beings than the other furry creatures that inhabit the earth, mainly because we have what scientists call a "conscience" (that, an opposable thumbs rank us right up there at the top of the food chain! LOL). But we didn't just start out with this conscience, or language, or even the ability to walk upright (although I DO have a friend who knows my family of origin background who swears I am the first of my dysfunctional family to walk upright!).
Whether you believe in Darwinistic evolution or not, there is no one who can argue human beings haven't "evolved" over the past several centuries...good or bad, we HAVE changed, sometimes in spite of ourselves, sometimes to deliberately benefit our species. The process of natural selection is alive and well...no matter WHO we vote for in THIS country. LOL But I digress...
It is natural behavior for ALL animals to prepare for the changing of seasons. Mammals birth their children in the Spring to ensure there will be adequate warmth and food for their growth during the summer and fall months. Fur-coated animals grow a heavier pelt in preparation for the cold of winter...automatically shedding this coat when the sun and season signal it is time to do so.
My favorite "furry animal" to watch during the season changes are the squirrels (Homo sapiens can bore me after a while). Squirrels busily scavenge and bury seeds and nuts all throughout the summer and fall in preparation for winter. I have read they take a "mental picture" when burying their booty, making a mental map of where to return to find this morsel of food during the cold, winter months.
If you are particularly fascinated by squirrels, you may have noticed in the fall months they will sometimes return to a previously buried food source, uncover it, then rebury it in the same spot. I have always been intrigued by this behavior. My personal theory is the squirrels are just "checking" to make sure the nut or seed remains where they remember it...an easy find for later or even an inventory of sorts.
Human nature is not as highly evolved from the squirrel as we would like to think. I believe in the fall season, humans also "check their nuts" to make sure they have enough to winter over. The only difference is we are not checking our food source, but rather what "morsels" we have on reserve in our psyches to weather us through the cold and dark season of our souls. (I told you there might be a bit of verbal masterbation here...but no, you kept reading!).
The coming of fall means the daylight hours will dwindle, the air will crispen with chill, and for some, snow may even begin to blanket and freeze the land (the snow part just doesn't happen here in Seattle, folks). This natural progression into darkness can signal many things for humans. Because our physical needs are so well met in THIS country particularly, we don't often go through the motions of storing food for the winter...we know we can just hop into our gas-guzzling cars and run to the grocery store whenever we are hungry or needing physical comfort. There's usually no need to take an inventory of our physical possessions or food source.
But the human MIND does resort to inventory taking...it's just part of the evolutionary process. For some, fall or winter brings on SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), depression, or other ailments. We sometimes feel an unexplained anxiety in these months and have difficulty articulating the cause. People complain of feeling more melancholy, more tired, and actually needing more sleep.
For me personally, fall is the time of year I take my own inventory consciously and "check my nuts". Do I have enough friendship, financial security, love, peace of mind, solitude, and joy in my life (the nuts of my life) to "winter over"? HAVE I COLLECTED AND BURIED ENOUGH NUTS TO GET ME THROUGH THESE DARKER DAYS? Do I remember how to find my "nuts" when I most desperately need them? And if I haven't got enough booty to get me through or I've somehow forgotten where I buried it, fall is the perfect season to scramble and "git 'er done" before winter sets in.
My wish for all of you is that you have gathered an abundance of "nuts" over your lifetime and have spent the earlier months of this year adding to your own, personal inventories. I hope when you "check your nuts" consciously or unconsciously this fall season, you will find all that you need and will rest peacefully through the darkness of winter.