...if it all means nothing.
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...if it all means nothing.

“If nothing else, Earth wants you to pause to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, to feel the breeze, to listen to the crunch of leaves, and to remember all the past year has brought. And the years before that.” Writer and consultant Cameron Navarro encourages us to pause, grieve, and treasure each moment.

...if it all means nothing.

“If nothing else, Earth wants you to pause to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, to feel the breeze, to listen to the crunch of leaves, and to remember all the past year has brought. And the years before that.” Writer and consultant Cameron Navarro encourages us to pause, grieve, and treasure each moment.

I RECENTLY HAD one of those feels-like-real-life dreams where I was chatting with a friend, and abruptly declared, “I’m so lonely and so sad,” bursting into sobs. It was a heaving sob that woke me up. Later in the day, when I was feeling a bit down, I recalled the dream and thought: if you can dream it, you can achieve it!

I promise the entirety of this essay won’t be too maudlin. 

Grief has been a common theme of the past eighteen-ish months. Not only with our global issues, but with multiple losses of friends and family in my case. While I’m still processing and experiencing these losses, I’ve noticed a theme in my grief: it shows up so wildly different in any moment. Like a shifting tide. When I learned my friend took her life after living with schizophrenia for years, I ran my tear ducts dry. Bawled while doing the dishes, while in the bathroom, while watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Luckily, I was still in quarantine, because grief doesn’t read the room. 

About a year later, when my cousin died in a tragic car accident, I was standing in the middle of the Utah desert, staring out into the seemingly endless expanse of sand and rock, just standing and staring. The world felt so big and so small, all at the same time. Time made even less sense, and in some ways, I don’t think I have left that spot in the Devil’s Garden. In the past few days, I’ve teared up at commercials, TV shows, my dog sleeping, some jangly folk songs, a group of ducks, a gentle breeze, and on and on. All of these bring up the big questions: What does it all mean? What if it means nothing? 

I believe fall is our Mother Earth showing us that processing loss is essential to all processes; by acknowledging and respecting the end of things as winter approaches, we can be prepared for the new growths of our spring seasons.

There have been many experiences of loss, kindness, and joy before, between, and since these events. And there will continue to be, because life continues to cycle in each moment, and will continue to do so until its end. And in some ways, that is enough of an answer to those questions.

The seasons are one of many tangible reminders of these cycles. I think that’s why I resonate with the fall season. I believe fall is our Mother Earth showing us that processing loss is essential to all processes; by acknowledging and respecting the end of things as winter approaches, we can be prepared for the new growths of our spring seasons.

I also really enjoy pumpkin soup and a good cardigan. 

While I didn’t enjoy Halloween much growing up—I do not enjoy being scared, but that’s a story for another time—the season has grown on me in the past decade as I learn more about my family history, Día de los Muertos, and the cycles of plant life and harvest. For those unfamiliar, Día de los Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween,” and I only connect them here because my experience with their themes is connected in my life. As someone who has felt comfortable thinking about life, death, beliefs, and the like since I was a kid, seeing the world publicly acknowledge and even celebrate death is comforting. I feel more connected with others, with the Earth, with the universe. And also, did I mention the pumpkin and sweaters?

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BUT IT TURNS out most people don’t enjoy ruminating on death after November 2 or so. We rush right along to the next winter holiday, event, or obligation. This is not a judgement by any means—I love the general cheer and kindness that seems to accompany the last few months of each year. The many different traditions and celebrations are full of joy and community, essential parts of our humanity.

However, I’ve started to wonder if this deluge of celebrations might be a coping mechanism, heavily supported by capitalism. Don’t wanna think about death for too long? Don’t worry, you can buy everything you need to have a perfect Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s! Don’t wait, because stuff will distract [strike that] make you happy now! While cheeky, I don’t intend for my words to be cynical, because coping mechanisms are normal human responses to keep us safe. 

If nothing else, Earth wants you to pause to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, to feel the breeze, to listen to the crunch of leaves, and to remember all the past year has brought. And the years before that.

As we navigate so many personal, local, and global hardships, coping mechanisms are essential to continue moving forward. But this is where I start to wonder: what if our coping mechanisms are no longer serving us? What if distractions and preoccupations have served their purpose, and now it is time for us to start to sit with our grief? To speak aloud that we are lonely and sad. To sob. To stand and stare in the desert. To get swallowed up in our favorite sweater. To eat plenty of candy. And to wonder what it all means, even if it all means nothing.

I’m better at wondering than I am at providing any reasonable answers, but I do want to encourage you to pause, however that looks in your life. If nothing else, Earth wants you to pause to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, to feel the breeze, to listen to the crunch of leaves, and to remember all the past year has brought. And the years before that. To think of the joy that our loved ones have brought us. To consider how the tender, fleeting nature of this life is what makes it all that much more brilliant. And to enjoy your versions of soup and candy and sweaters.


May you, your loved ones, and your ancestors be safe, be well, and live with ease.

Author’s note: The title of this essay is taken from the song “What Do It Mean” by Lord Huron. I recommend listening to the song, reading the lyrics, and enjoying the entire album as a good companion for this season.

Top photo credit: Cameron Navarro.

Author’s note: The title of this essay is taken from the song “What Do It Mean” by Lord Huron. I recommend listening to the song, reading the lyrics, and enjoying the entire album as a good companion for this season.

Top photo credit: Cameron Navarro.

Author’s note: The title of this essay is taken from the song “What Do It Mean” by Lord Huron. I recommend listening to the song, reading the lyrics, and enjoying the entire album as a good companion for this season.

Top photo credit: Cameron Navarro.

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