Month of October brings appreciation, fatalism

October 15, 2013

By Peter Clark

I love October. Between the changing weather, the eruption of color and the settling shroud of Halloween, my appreciation of this month has grown exponentially over time.

It is a recent development and a remarkable one. Here: Let me remark on it.

Peter Clark Press reporter

Peter Clark
Press reporter

About 11 years ago, I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a pretty severe case. Instead of the short daylight of winter, autumn depressed me the most. We’re not talking being moody and mopey. We’re talking straight up “can’t leave the bed because everything is eternally painful.” I had life-changing problems with school as I was just beginning college and it led to some pretty intense family issues. Everyone has their personal struggles.

Luckily, therapy and intense attention to my emotional well-being evened the serotonin keel. I haven’t had an autumnal problem for years and years.

That has not stopped me feeling intense concern when September annually ebbs. With shorter days and the first electric chill in the air, I immediately become hyperaware of the environment around me. In the spirit of self-preservation, I strive to be outdoors and active.

Two factors comprise my love of October: absorption and fatalism.

Over the years, this attention to detail has grown into the return of a familiar friend.

I am acutely aware of every day as it comes. I reflect on each day and recognize the smells, sights and sounds that comprise the shifting of this season. There are specific albums I must hear. There are specific movies I must watch. I celebrate it. I absorb it.

Fall and I have become old war buddies. We have seen the worst of each other and have grown a mutual respect. At least for me, I’m not sure how October feels about it; this respect has turned to love.

The fatalistic aspect is harder to describe. I will use a rollercoaster analogy and hope you can keep up. I, and most people I assume, enjoy rollercoasters because it thrillingly brings you on the cusp of an untimely demise in a safe and strapped-in fashion. Though rollercoasters offer little danger, your body does not know that. Adrenaline kicks in and you enjoy that fine line between safety and danger.

This is how I feel about fall, specifically October. I know that my off-kilter brain chemistry has matured in healthy fashion, but some small worry remains and I walk through this month on eggshells. There is a semblance of danger and I revel in it.

Surely, I don’t think my notion is original. Halloween, horror movies and scary stories define October. The whole month is a testament to natural systems in steep shutdown mode. October is the year’s last gasping breath before the doors close up shop and stillness calms everything into a cold embrace, until again spring wakes up the world in burst of life. And I love it.

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