Today is the last day of summer. Despite the colorful glory of autumn, I have never been a fan of this time of year. I know, I know, some of you reading this are appalled, confounded, maybe even offended. But before you throw your pumpkin spice latte in my face or pelt me with freshly picked apples, hear me out.

Without going too much into the details of my childhood, suffice it to say that I grew up in a cold, grey city where winters were long and punishing. While some people enjoy that climate, I do not. I am genetically predisposed for desert dwelling. I like it HOT. I have also always struggled with seasonal depression. For me, autumn was the preamble to winter and signified the beginning of the end. It marked back to school, back to darkness, back to fatigue, and back to sadness.

Even though I moved away from the bitter cold and long winters, I still get a little sad when autumn hits. Inevitable darkness, impending cold and imminent death gets me down. Summer is my favorite, I love its juicy, bacchanalian, sunshiny, warm, playful, carefree ways. I want to dance barefoot in the grass, chase fireflies, lie in the sand, play in the surf, and rest beneath a sky exploding with fireworks.

At this time of the Equinox, I am reminded to seek balance. Too much of a good thing is never a good thing. We need the darkness to appreciate and understand the light. We must counter the external revelry with profound internal contemplation. This is the rhythm of the universe. This is how wisdom is formed.

However, this year, autumn is especially intense for me. My birthday is in a few days. Autumn is not just the time of year, it is the season of my life. As autumn stands at the threshold of today, I stand straddling two seasons at once, with one leg in the past and the other in the future. I am middle aged and it is a time of reckoning.

This year, I’m turning 44. I used to think 44 was pretty old. Most kids will tell you that 44-year-olds aren’t cool or fun, that they’re boring and out of touch. I have to be honest, I’m having a really hard time believing how old I am.

According to numerology, 44 is about being rewarded in the present and having a positive impact on the future. It’s about being pragmatic, efficient, disciplined, and confident.

In certain traditions, the day of reckoning is when you’re held accountable for your actions. You must face facts, pay your debts, fulfill your promises, uphold your obligations. No more excuses or running away. No more waffling or buying time.

Clearly, this is a time to buck up and be responsible.

As the leaves wilt and fall from the trees, as the sun sinks a little lower and the temperatures get a little cooler, I’ll be confronting where I’ve been and examining where I’m going in my life. It’s time to own my mistakes, take credit for my successes, and forge a path of integrity that will sustain me and leave a proper legacy. This is much easier said than done. Because, though I am in the autumn of my life, I sometimes still feel like a confused, carefree girl just trying to make it to tomorrow.

The mountains I live in will soon be exploding in vibrant hues of orange, red, and gold. It truly is an incredible sight to behold. I’ve come to appreciate the golden glow of autumn light, which is stunning and quite unlike any other time of year. Maybe those are the things to focus on this year. Maybe it’s best to spend less time noticing the leaves drying up and the chill in the air and more time appreciating the warmth of a fire or the smell of cinnamon and cloves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to join you autumn enthusiasts just yet, but I am ready to try to live in the present and move forward from a place of love rather than fear. Now is the time. This is the reckoning.

Adina Arden Cooper

I'm a healer, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.