What the Autumn Equinox Teaches Us About Love
Since the autumn equinox is the time of equal day and night, it’s easy to assume its connection to love is that it’s a 50/50 deal. You do your part, I’ll do mine. We’ll get love right if we meet eachother’s needs equally. But that’s the human world’s definition, not nature’s. The human world has groomed us to be concerned with managing risk and jockeying for advantage, and calling it love.
If we’re honest, we’ll recognize how often we find ourselves peering at eachother over tightly clutched clipboards, tallying wins and losses in relationships, keeping lengthy records of resentment and fulfillment to determine the safety of future investments. This isn’t love. Rather, it is brokering that’s mistaken for love.
Lucky for us, unexpected circumstance, painful challenge, and the passage of time will eventually expose the lies about love we’ve been fed and perpetuated through cultural distortion. Somewhere along the line, the idea of getting needs met has become the primary definition of a healthy relationship.
While it’s important to recognize that the genuine desire to meet another’s needs is essential to intimacy, connection and interdependence, the kind of meeting eachother’s needs that insists on giving while expecting equal return is really barter and begets a volley of maneuvers that has nothing to do with love at all.
We’ve absorbed this message from a world that glamorizes the organic, naturally reciprocal, fundamental spirit of love and treats it as a calculated commodity exchange. Defining healthy relationships this way leaves us dueling in self-interest, downgrading the quality of our mutual experience and accelerating the demise of other aspects of community life that vitally depend on our ability to thrive in relationships of all kinds.
This is a true crime against nature, love’s nature (and nature’s love) and the good example the natural world gives us if we’re paying attention to how interdependence and ecologically sound relationships really work. Nature Herself is available to be our greatest mentor if we’re willing to seek the wisdom She keeps.
The smallest and largest creatures of Earth and the harmonious interplay of elemental forces keep our ecosystem in balance. Nature is devoid of self-consciousness, spared from the calculation that it should or will get back what it gives in equal measure. The various expressions of nature contribute one hundred percent in the moment, as they are. Return for contribution is never measured in a one-to-one exchange.
Autumn leaves don’t look six months to the future to assure substitutions will be sent before they part from the branch. Neither do they scream in protest as they release their attachments. Nor do they see their solo part in the orchestra as a replacement for the beauty of the whole score. They offer their all, in service to a larger unfolding.
The Autumn Equinox marks the time of full harvest, when plants bear final fruit, go to seed, and fall back to the earth. As they near the end, they lose their vigor for looking buff, slack in productivity and eventually surrender themselves toward the dark soil whence they came. Dissolving and merging into the rhythm of life through death are essential to fertilizing tomorrow.
True love requires the falling away of self-interest, so the lover feeds the system that supports the overall care of the we, recognizing the me is contained within the we. That’s the protection it seeks through commerce that can never be truly delivered. It’s important to understand that love doesn’t mistake the death of self-interest for the kind of death that is a separation-making self-sacrifice. In other words, love doesn’t put itself in harm’s way with a partner who doesn’t endeavor (even if sometimes falling short) to also hold the good of the we in mind.
The Autumn Equinox teaches us what love requires, so we can perhaps place the clipboards aside, experience the joy that comes from contributing fully without concern for return, and embrace the dark and light of resentments and fulfillments as they come and go without tally and calculation.
Somewhere in this teaching is the opportunity to restore our trust in nature as our guide and to experience a mature love beyond the deceptions that mere self-interested exchange perpetuates. If we go 100/100 all in, maybe we stand a chance of re-entering the wisdom of a time long ago, before human culture separated itself from nature and the many teachings She offers in the movement of Her seasonal turns.
Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll learn to truly love.
I’m one of the lucky ones this article refers to! My husband and I have worked with Pat together and separately. As a result, I’m learning to love more deeply: both the parts of myself and others that I’ve judged harshly, and the unexpected challenges life can bring. My self-image and close relationships have changed in ways I never could have predicted. The benefits continue to ripple.
Working with Pat isn’t therapy. It isn’t goal-oriented coaching. It’s about learning to live life by listening for the magic that’s present inside me and in the world around me…and understanding how my response and perspective shape my world.
~ ML, Prospect, CT, a client of Living Source LLC
Pat Heavren is a relationship coach, mediator, educator and healer who is passionate about supporting individuals and couples to flourish through alignment with the wisdom of the natural world. She is the author of Magic in Plain Sight: When Acceptance is the Healing and is former senior teaching faculty with the Four Winds Society, an international school of neo-shamanism and energy medicine. Pat has led workshops across the US, Canada and Latin America and works worldwide with clients via telephone and Zoom from her Woodbridge, CT office. She can be reached at: www.livingsource.us and (203) 444-4424 for appointments.