It is finally fall here. After weeks of 80-90 degree days, the rain and cool temps have descended. Red, russet and golden leaves carpet my walk. Sweaters have come out of the closet and the cool, damp air is breathed deep into my lungs. I have always loved the fall. I associate it with of one of my favorite memories throughout grade school....the day they handed out the textbooks at school. No matter how much I ended up dreading those boring textbooks and the assignments they produced when the school year was in full throttle, on that first day, first week even, they were magical tomes full of knowledge and mystery. Their heft, their smell, whether new, old or used, I viewed them as keys to the mystery. Within their pages were things that grown-ups knew. The knowledge was being handed out piecemeal, year after year, page by page, to my eager little mind.
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED learning - still do. My all time favorite was the Think and Do workbook series. I wanted to rush home and complete the whole book that first day, yet being a good Catholic student, I followed the rules and only did one assignment at a time. Imagine - think and then do. How simple, how true. We do it every day. At least we should - think before doing, that it.
I felt the same way when I stepped into the Bethesda library - a building full of books that I expected I would eventually read, yes, each and every one of them. To my young eyes it looked doable. The library opened in November 1952, the month and year I was born. As I grew, it grew. Soon they began to fill the study tables with books, then they moved the Children's book section to a smaller area (we were small people), then they announced they were building a new library. Then the new library was remodeled to enclosed more space for more books. In other words, the number of books increased exponentially. As I grew, I understood that I would never get to them all. Ha! I can barely get to any of them right now. Another reason I am taking time off.
So back to fall. Last weekend I flew home from St. Louis on a route that took me over the mountains of West Virginia. I don't know why, but it was the first time I had seen the fall leaves from this vantage point. A gorgeous carpet of russet and gold hues woven together in a tapestry. The further north I got, the greener it became. I followed the Potomac River as it wound its way, ribbon-like through the mountains and down to our Nation's Capitol. Crossing the river yesterday on my way home from visiting my parents in Virginia, I realized just how close I live to the river. Just shy of 3 miles. The very same river my ancestors sailed and traded on back in the 1600s. Back in the day, I stepped into this river at Colonial Beach, even swam in its waters. Now, sadly, it is too polluted to swim in.
You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you. ~ Heraclitus. Do I want to step into the same river? I do want those fall feelings again. I want to be that wide-eyed girl again, with dreams of reading all the books, gaining all the knowledge. I do so enjoy thinking. But the other half of the equation is to DO. Now that I have grown, I realize that it is no good to only think, one must do. Learning, living life comes from the doing. And I have learned that there is as much knowledge to acquire by doing is there is by thinking. More perhaps.
Of course I still plan to curl up by the fire with a good book. One cannot always be doing. Life must balance out. I think the key is to always be eager and open to the ebbs and flows of life, the winding of the river. To be that eager child desiring to one day know it all. To be as a child, to be a beginner. One can always be a beginner. If the angel deigns to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner. ~ Rilke
I'll see you when I get back from the Quilt Fesitval.