Today feels thinly veiled in an achingly heavy layer of nostalgia. The kind where I can vividly recall the smell of a childhood home I haven’t stepped foot in in over ten years belonging to someone whom I used to know; the kind where it seems like only yesterday I was a spry youth running rampantly alongside the vibrancy of more golden days, and now my bones creak like rotting support beams beneath the weight that comes with the melancholy of growing older.

The lake looks especially blue this morning against the soft amber of the trees. A crisp bite in the air reminds me that the seasons are always changing whether I am ready for them or not. What is time but a gentle ebb and flow of our present emotional states? Every version of ourselves marked in the past by how we felt — but which version of myself am I currently? What self can I be courageous enough to claim, now, in this moment?

Lately, my subconscious has felt a lot like when you have a bruise and you keep pressing your finger into the middle of it to see if it still hurts or, similarly, when you hold your hand just above a lit stove top. The burning sensation is there, but only as a whisper. As the pain creeps to the surface, I want to know how long it will be until I am consumed by the flames. How do I extinguish myself without becoming ash? I have spent so many years destroying myself that creation is the only path left.

Tenderness seems most abundant when the leaves begin to turn and I think that’s why I favor Autumn the most. People start to draw closer to each other, as if in an attempt to cling onto the last bits of life in the world around them before the death brought on by winter seeps in and we all go into a deep emotional hibernation. But, even amidst all of the stillness, there is still life. In the rosy cheeks of a lover, in blowing your breath into someone’s hands to help keep them warm, in the collective yet unspoken belief that once everything thaws, there will be a chance for new beginnings. You just have to know where to look.

I am trying to be patient as I come to terms with accepting that it is taking my lifetime to teach myself how to be alive. I wonder how many more seasons will go by before I understand.