Take a walk through Old Campus or down Hillhouse Avenue or across the New Haven Green and admire the annual falling of the leaves. Grab a coffee at a local cafe and run from your room and the lethargy of the libraries. Absorb any pathway on campus, and you will soon find yourself swimming in the autumnal sea. Nature has hit a breaking point. The crossing of the Hellespont, the Rubicon and the Delaware are in full force. The trees are slowly shedding their colorful skin; the cycle of the seasons is upon us. 

What can Homer tell us about a New Haven fall? Having survived four illiterate centuries, the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” are powerful, expansive works. The author milks natural metaphors, preserving the stories of empires and heroes past by appealing to what is shared in every century. In reflecting on the cyclical nature of nature, Homer, in book six of his “Iliad,” offers us one of his most striking metaphors: 

“Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. 

Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, 

now the living timber bursts with the new buds 

and spring comes round again. And so with men: 

as one generation comes to life, another dies away.” 

Take another walk, and keep this metaphor in mind. Every time a leaf falls, watch it float aimlessly towards the ground, affected by the wind and the weather, done in by its inevitable fate. This leaf is you, and the billions who have come before. The descending leaf is a person dying and a soul ascending. Remember that you are no less beholden to the laws of nature than the leaves: as one generation comes to life, another dies away.” 

View the countless number of leaves under your boots as human beings, past or present, and consider your own insignificance. There are an infinite number of leaves, so many that they are constantly blown to the sides of the road by those living and ground into smaller forms, forms that are unrecognizable from their previous state. Then the leaves are collected, bagged and disposed of. This is your future. Eventually, the leaves must fall. A new season must come. It’s just the way it is. 

But now consider your own significance and pick up a leaf. Hold it in the calluses of your hand. Twist it between your fingers. Peer at it with glittering eyes, awed by the shape and the texture, the ridges and the roughness, the veins projecting off its stem. Let the kaleidoscope of colordraw you in: the yellow, the brown, the maroon. Each leaf is unique, each carrying its own story, each displaying its own beauty. While there are cosmic amounts of leaves, it is possible to find solace in your singularity.

When most people think of fall, they don’t think of daily activities. They focus on the main attractions: Halloween, apple picking, Thanksgiving and, at Yale, The Game. These are all wonderful, but when we put all our energy into the spectacular things, we miss out on the simple. Sometimes the simplest activities, like a fall walk, can be the most beautiful moments.

So take a walk in the sunset of a season; remember your insignificance and significance and the cyclical laws of life. Witness the wonders of the natural world while enhancing your perspective. Take an aerial view from above; observe all of the leaves and realize you are only one. But come back to earth, zoom in on a single leaf, consider its contour and color and appreciate your own beauty and uniqueness. 

This is fall in all its glory. Listen to nature; be ready for what it wants to tell you. Let your mind sway with the seasons. There are not many college campuses better than Yale to appreciate Mother Nature. Fall is winding down. Walk with Homer and remember.

DANIEL ROMOSER is a first year in Silliman College. Contact him at daniel.romoser@yale.edu 

Daniel Romoser is a first year in Silliman College. Contact him at daniel.romoser@yale.edu.