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Change from within this fall, even though the world isn't

  • Published
  • By Chap. (Lt. Col.) Mike Gilbert
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain
Got fleece? The nights have been getting noticeably cooler and many people are breaking out the warmer clothing. The seasons are changing and we are finding out what that means in Afghanistan. We like living in a narrow range of temperatures. Our bodies have the ability to cope with big changes, but our comfort level keeps us wishing the weather was a little warmer or a little cooler. Our minds have the ability to come up with ways to insulate us from the unwanted changes. Mankind is very creative in the ways we can avoid change.

The changes of the seasons held more meaning for us in the past. People would notice the coming of fall and shift gears toward bringing in the harvest and preparing for winter. They would move with a sense of urgency knowing that the coming snows would remove the chance to bring in more supplies. They would celebrate when the harvest was complete and it looked like the chance of surviving another winter was good.

We are a people who have moved away from being one with the cycles of nature and the land. We don't think about lying in winter supplies. These days we continue to work as normal knowing that the dining facilities will have food. We only get a little grumpy if there is no syrup, salt or napkins. There is no change to our pace. We continue with our same schedule. To us, the coming of fall might only mean putting on a bit more insulation to avoid being uncomfortable. I wonder what we miss by avoiding the opportunities that come with change.

Back home in Montana, autumn brings some welcome change ... like not having to mow the grass every week. The extra time is put to good use going for long walks, kicking the leaves and enjoying the changing colors in the trees. Children go back to school and parents can sit outside in the sun with a good book and a cup of coffee. There seems to be something in the air that is calling us to one more adventure before winter pushes us to find a warm spot. Change brings opportunities. We can consider where our life is heading and whether there are new paths to follow.

Here at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, we head into the new season without the familiar sights and smells of home, but isn't there still the opportunity to consider what changes are possible? Change is all around us. The wind seems to have shifted towards the "Poo Pond" instead of from it. The change of the DFAC contracts brings a new sense of expectation. The instinct to grab for our fleece can be that reminder of something new happening.

I wonder what life lessons we miss as we avoid the change of seasons. Instead of insulating yourself against the change, maybe there is something you can change within yourself this fall.

"How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if only we would listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown." Elisabeth Kubler-Ross