While out for a walk today I noticed a very particular feeling in the air. Today in the UK the temperature was 21°C, (69.8°F for my foreign friends). It was warm enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts, sunny enough for sunglasses.
The streets were alive with people going from place to place, walking their dogs, fetching groceries, delivering parcels and so on. Yet despite the tail of the summer vibes, there was also an evanescent sense of the approaching autumn.
Though, it is not autumn yet.
I tried to put my finger on why it felt like this today? Why could I sense the turn of the seasons?
Was it because there are brown leaves on the ground? There have been brown leaves on the roads for weeks, yet it is only the last few days I have felt the sense of approaching autumn.
Was it the cooler temperatures? The pleasant breeze? The recent heatwaves do not seem so far in the past and it would be reasonable to feel there is still another just round the corner.
Something in the air felt autumnal, yet also not.
It reminded me that we often label and categorise our experiences for the sake of ease. But by doing so we become blind to the nuances that don’t fit into these categories.
We think of spring, summer, autumn, winter, as if these four categories are sufficient to describe the infinite nuances of each day as it comes.
For the very subtle and unique experience I had today, these labels are not very useful.
Amongst the joy I felt in this twilight of summer and autumn, as I got excited for autumnal walks, pub lunches, early evening sunsets and so on, I also noticed the sense of loom for the approaching winter, which I am not looking forward to anywhere near as much as autumn.
And yet that loom is a direct consequence of the above categorisation that I describe.
In amongst the experience of winter, there is; winter outside, winter inside, winter with friends, winter with lovers, winter with family. Winter with drinks, winter with food. Winter with warm socks. Winter with travelling. Winter with happiness, winter with sadness.
And these too are all labels; concepts and impressions we have formed in our memories as shorthand for similar, but by no means identical experiences. No two experiences that might both be described with the same label will be alike, though one happy experience in winter may remind us of another.
The subtle beauty of this feeling I felt today, for which I have no justification or explanation, reminds me that in every moment of our waking lives, deeper and deeper nuances exist for us to experience.
These nuances defy our labels and explanations. They just are. All there is to do is simply be with them as they emerge.