Leaf dance

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8, NASV

On my morning dog walk I encounter a neighbor ambling down the sidewalk, her feet sweeping through the crisp vermilion carpet of fallen leaves.

“A big spider has taken up residence behind our back porch light,” she tells me. “Every morning there’s a new perfect web in place.”

My neighbor knows I like to watch spiders. “The nights haven’t been cold enough to kill them off for the season,” I say. “It will be sad when they go.”

“Every day I try to focus on something pleasant,” my neighbor says. “I find something to lift my spirits; it helps me deal with my pain.”

My thoughts run to the story I heard on the radio about the latest study on Alzheimer’s patients. It seems that they carry their feelings with them long after the memories which created those feelings have faded away. Sad feelings persist during a slow decline into depression; happy or pleasant feelings carry the day.

Perhaps my neighbor is on to something; perhaps we should all work on cultivating pleasant feelings by focusing on our positive experiences.

“Last night this spider left a loose line dangling,” she says. “It caught a leaf. For nearly an hour the leaf danced in the evening breeze. You couldn’t see the thread, only the leaf that spun and twirled under the porch light, refusing to fall. Our cat watched, mesmerized from the back window.”

A solitary crimson leaf, dancing in the night, suspended by a single silken thread. The image burns in my brain.

I recall the recent death of a young woman, her dark body suspended from a single cord.

Two mental images: one delightful, one horrific.

Objects do not house emotion; we bring our emotions to them. In them we see goodness or ugliness, horror or delight; and these are the emotions that linger long after the memory of the thing has faded from our consciousness.

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