The Transition

While on my morning walk, I noticed a maple leaf clinging to its branch.  It had already lost its colorful coat and was now begrudgingly wearing its brown, scratchy sweater, with small tears and stains.  I have often imagined what trees think, but until today I hadn’t given much thought to the musings of leaves. What follows is the story that flowed through me as I watched the leaf take its final bow.

A slightly younger, more colorful leaf was talking to a scared brown leaf. “Why don’t you let go? You know it’s time.”

“Not yet! Not yet! I’m not ready.”

“We’ve been talking about this since we were buds. We have a new job to do—to go back to the soil and make it even richer. Why aren’t you excited? There is nothing left for you here.  The summer sun is long gone.  I think you’re being ridiculous.”

“That’s easy for you to say.  You have at least two weeks left to rustle in the breeze with the rest of the family.”

The colorful leaf was pensive.   “Maybe.  Or maybe there will be a rainstorm tomorrow and the force of the winds will blow me right off the branch.”

“Doesn’t that scare you? What if you land somewhere way beyond our home?”

“It scares me a little, but in the way I felt when I had to change out of my green slicker into my orange autumn coat.  I’m more excited, I guess. The possibilities are endless. “

“Possibilities? What possibilities?  You could be crunched under a human’s foot or sink to the bottom of the lake.  As soon as you leave the safety of the tree, anything could happen.”

“Exactly. ANYTHING could happen.  A small human could pick me up, bring me home, and treat me like a small treasure.  Maybe I’ll get placed in a book.  Maybe I’ll become a part of an art project, hanging on a wall for years to come.

“That’s not likely.”

“Or maybe I’ll become a part of a huge pile where dogs happily jump in and out.”

“Yeah or maybe you’ll become a part of a pile that gets set on fire. I’ve heard of that, you know.” Brown leaf clung a little tighter to his branch.

“Who cares? I’m talking about possibilities here!  You don’t know.  None of us know for sure. But wherever I end up, that’s where I’m meant to be, so why fight it?”  The colorful leaf sensed that brown leaf was more frightened.  “It’s going to be ok. You’re going to be ok.  You’re just…you’re going through another transition. We all are.”

“Yes, but this is the final transition. At least in the other stages of my life, I knew what was coming. “

“Eh, you thought you knew what was coming. You could have been ravaged by insects or torn away in a summer storm.  Your security was an illusion.”

“Ok, fine, but I was still a leaf.  I’m upset that I will no longer be a leaf.  I’m not ready to give that up.”  Brown leaf suddenly felt immense sadness.

“What if you become something better?  What if we all become something better?  We’re giving our life force to help other trees and plants grow.  True, we will no longer have the same form.  But the essence of us is still there.  We still have purpose.  What if we look at this as an exciting new chapter?” The colorful leaf realized he was consoling himself as well as brown leaf.

“I’m trying to see it your way. I really am.  I know I have to let go whether I want to or not.  I just wish I wanted to.”

“Maybe you’ll find acceptance when the moment comes.  The anticipation is always hard. But remember brown leaf, you lived a good life.  Think of all the memories you’ve collected.  Remember when we pushed out of our buds?  Remember how the humans ‘ooh’d and aah’d’ over how bright green we were? They were so excited to see signs of spring.”  Colorful leaf sensed that brown leaf had relaxed slightly and continued going down memory lane.

“Remember all the families we gave shade to over the summer?  What about the time that caterpillar was about to take a bite out of you and all of a sudden, a bird swooped in, ate him, and saved the day? That was great! Then the cooler air came and we got to put on our gorgeous coats.  Humans drove from all over to look at us.  Remember brown leaf? Remember?”

Brown leaf was quiet.  Just then, the faintest breeze floated through the tree. Without a word, brown leaf let go. Colorful leaf watched as his friend floated peacefully to the ground, landing safely between two big roots, exactly as brown leaf would have wished.


Carol Campos
Carol Campos
Like many, I struggled for years wondering what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I had been working in the corporate world for over 20 years, most recently in a leadership role with a Fortune 5 company. Although I was consistently recognized and promoted throughout my career, I somehow knew that I was meant to do something different. I felt stuck in a life that didn’t fit, yet I had created it. What was my purpose? I had no idea. Finally, I left my corporate job and made the leap into the unknown. After doing months of self-discovery work (actually, play!), reconnecting to my higher wisdom, and re-remembering who I was at my core, I realized I didn’t have to fix myself. I also realized that I didn’t have to worry about “finding my purpose.” What I found was that I’m multi-passionate and didn’t want to be boxed into one thing. I didn’t HAVE to be boxed into one thing. I started a podcast and a blog where I explored the human experience—including my own beautiful, messy, but perfect road. This blog later became my column on BizCatalyst 360°. I became a mentor and a wayshower for others. I became a consultant to help improve company culture and improve client relationships. These are things I couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. But as often is the case, the Universe had an even bigger plan for me than I had for myself. My Soul knew what I would be doing long before I did, and I’m grateful that I followed the Divine map that was laid out before me! I love traveling, exploring new cultures, being in nature, and helping people on their own paths. I hold a B.A. in Communications from Hofstra University. I live in Massachusetts with my rambunctious and hilarious cats, Petey, and Emmett.

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    • Thanks so much, Larry. I completely agree. I visit my tree friends almost every day, weather permitting. You’re right–we have to learn to quiet ourselves and listen. 🙂

  1. Ah, I love it. The secret lives of trees (and leaves). I do believe they communicate to one another. A dear friend of mine used to look at a fall maple, resplendent in its colors, and conclude, “Just look at how proud that tree is of itself!”

    “What if we all become something better?” Indeed. We don’t know, so why not ask?

    A lovely piece. Just what I needed to shut out COVID and (alleged) “ballot fraud” for at least a few minutes.

    • You are so welcome, Carol. I must admit, I find it challenging not to look up at trees and absorb the wonder of their myriad colors and forms. I have so many photos of trees, and their reflections in rivers. Thank YOU again.

  2. Carol, you have put into words what we humans do tend to forget. The description is truly lovely. I even found it slightly emotional (unusual for a mere male!). I love tree and leaves; the fact they bless us with myriad colors throughout the seasons, and yes, some want to hang on the the branches; often two leaves left; perhaps one exchanging advice to the other. Carol,, so vivid so wonderful , so real. The leaves are saying ‘good bye’ here and there is a feeling that there is a purpose and their future relatives will bring happiness and wonder to we humans once again.

    A gem, Carol. Thank you.