Leaves Fall

It’s not often that I take thoughtful walks, but the other day I found myself enjoying a crisp fall afternoon, walking and thinking. When I reached the Elkhorn Creek at my property’s edge, I stopped walking, but I kept thinking. And watching.

I watched leaves fall into the creek. No revelation of nature, there, just a routine autumnal occurrence. But I kept watching those leaves as they drifted down from an old sycamore tree. What the yellow-brown leaves lacked in fall color, they made up for in size. Big old leaves drifted down, zig-zagging into the Elkhorn, where they floated like little boats.

Some of them landed in the middle of the creek, immediately joining a downstream flow that hustled them around the bend and out of sight within two minutes. Others landed closer to the creek bank, where they swirled around for a bit before getting caught up by the current, and then they floated, well, gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.

But not all the leaves joined the main stream. Some drifted instead into little pools that were formed by branches or rocks—tiny coves of still water, where new fallen leaves joined others that were already stuck there. Those leaves weren’t going anywhere.

I don’t typically draw cues from nature and try to turn them into greater truths, but as I watched those leaves fall, I couldn’t help but to wonder about the random nature of life. Those leaves that fell into the current were transported downstream without missing a beat. They didn’t know how lucky they were to be dropped into the main stream—the mainstream—where they advanced with a majority of the others.

The leaves that landed near the bank, though, took a different journey. Some were able to eventually catch a current and avoid being trapped in dead-end pools. But others were unable to escape the motionless water. They weren’t bad leaves—not misshapen or leaky. They were just unlucky.

Some leaves are lucky, and others are unlucky. It’s simple. Sheesh, it’s just leaves falling from a tree. Just random destiny, right?

On the other hand, it could be that God or Mother Nature was up there pulling strings, deciding which leaves entered the mainstream and which were left to rot in the shallows. That could make a guy feel like there’s plan—that leaf life isn’t so random, so uncontrolled.

Watching those leaves fall, though … it just seemed so natural. Some leaves were lucky and others were lost.