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Autumn Gold, Fire Alarms and Pillars That Endure

October 14th, 2011 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, how can we cope with the reality that life never stands still?

I’m fortunate to have an inspiring view from my 18th floor window of a pleasant court with clusters of evergreen and deciduous trees. They’re displaying a lovely palette of fall shades now as the autumn colour parade reaches its peak.

Directly below me there is a string of seven trees that have turned a beautiful shade of golden yellow flecked with green. The ground below them is speckled with yellow leaves scattered around two clusters of spruce trees. I gaze down at this miniature panorama frequently and take simple pleasure in observing it.

But just this very moment the fire alarm has gone off in the building. A piercing, three beat staccato tone that grates on my nerves like fingernails on a blackboard. I’ll dutifully stay put in my apartment until the firefighters arrive. They’ll check the source of the alarm and, in all likelihood, announce that all is well and we can go about our normal business.

What do these two things have in common? Both remind me that life never stands still. The golden leaves on that row of trees will gradually turn russet brown and tumble to the ground. The bare skeleton that remains will be a harbinger of the lockdown of winter. The cycle of the seasons is inexorable.

The fire alarm (which has just stopped although no firemen have arrived) is a reminder that my fate is not always in my own hands. The acts of others have consequences that can spin my life off in a totally different direction which I have little choice but to follow.

I often long for the simple pleasure of stasis. How wonderful it would be if I could circumvent change and turn off the universal march of time. Not permanently, of course. Just for a few days so I could languish in the beauty of autumn at its peak and not have to worry what twist of fate might be waiting for me around the next corner.

Alas, none of us have that power. We must ride the waves of life, feel ourselves aging as time marches on and come to terms with the reality that we are not in control of the bigger picture.

So how do we cope with the whims of fate and the relentless march of change? Live in the moment as much as we are able. Cherish the joys while they last. Find those pillars in our life that endure and anchor ourselves to them. We can’t know what tomorrow will bring but we can go forth into it grounded in the things that withstand the test of time.

The fire alarm has stopped. Quite peculiar – no fire trucks arrived. No announcements over the intercom. I’m left to assume that the plumbing service working in the building today tripped the alarm by accident. Sometimes we don’t get the answers.

So I will adopt the trees outside my window, in the full bloom of autumn colour, as today’s metaphor for life. Change is inevitable. Time waits for no man. But there are simple joys on the journey that I will drink in while they last. I will plant my roots in solid ground and ride out the storms. There will always be another spring.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at Visit to download a free preview of the e-book version.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Ron Blondeau Oct 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
    – Omar Khayyám