The woods were open, with leaves covering the forest floor. I sat atop my favorite ridge perched in a tree, gazing over a stunning view with my bow hanging next to me. When the woods are open, it feels as if you can see for miles. The morning was active with deer, but not the buck I was hunting for so I sit in solitude and stare out into the area around me and up into the sky far beyond this perfect place. Thoughts come out of me: “Farbz, your life has truly followed the rhythm of the fall this year. The woods transform as the fall progresses, as I have as well this year.” I pull out my iPhone, open up the notes app and I begin to type away the thoughts that come streaming into my mind. The following came out this past Friday and Saturday from my tree stand, I hope it resonates and that you receive an actionable takeaway from it.

Simplification of life is an amazing goal to constantly strive for. What if we could change our lives, remove our destructive patterns, and enhance our flow to jive with the leaves of fall? It is amazing how leaves work their cycle from green to colors, through their peak, and then they shed and fall to the ground and open up the woods again until spring. The fall of 2012 is proving to be a season of self-awareness and deep personal growth for me, where I seem to be in rhythm with the leaves. Having turned 40 last October, I vowed that this year’s fall would represent great change and it has indeed. In fact, I am changing so much like the leaves this year that it is almost uncanny.

This summer I reached one of those badly needed “clear it out” phases, where I knew I was capable of more in my life but I needed to “clear it out”. I decided to set the stage by removing alcohol from my life late this summer. Being an internet ad man in the outdoor industry these past six years has upped my necessity to entertain and with it built up a social drinking habit which had begun numbing out too much of my life. I have nothing against drinking, let me be clear, and I love a great beer or glass of wine, but I l allowed it to take too much of me. Too many days I would meet a client for a drink before coming home. Too many days I felt half-present with my wife and kids. Too many days I dozed off in my oldest son Hunter’s bed while reading him a book. Enough with becoming ornery or impatient with River or Fischer, my other sons, enough with not living with consciousness in my life. Yes, it was time to shed the habit, enough is enough. As the leaves began to transform so had I as a father, a hunter, and a man.

Upon quitting drinking, the love, the energy, the connection that I instantly felt while consciously looking into the eyes of my family created an intense burst of colors that I best compare to the October peak. The initial days were bright and each day seemed clearer and brighter. However, along with this brightness comes some dark sobering realities in life and in business, kind of like what a cold storm with high winds does to damage the peak colors as they begin to fade. The woods still have their colorful beauty with some transparency, which opens up more to be seen. With brightness still there, things become a little clearer, yet a little darker.

Once sober and clear, you begin to look deeper into the person that you are without the numbness, without the distraction, without the alibi, and you won’t like everything you see. This fall I have learned many valuable life lessons and not all were good, but lessons nonetheless and in the end I believe there is good in all lessons that help us grow. When the forest is covered with foliage, much of its contents can hide in the canopy. The thick green cover provides the ability to not be seen, however when the camouflage of the leaves around us sheds away, we are left naked and exposed. While there are gifts in this bare state, all of our flaws, weaknesses, and insecurities come to light. Within this place we can find clarity. Nobody said seeing clearly is easy, however it removes much of the unknown or at least many of the fears. Remember the saying that FEAR stands for FICTITIOUS EVENTS APPEARING REAL. Once the leaves have fallen and we can see clearly, the EVENTS become clearer and more real.

Looking at my life and at my character with the leaves gone, I had allowed myself to become over-committed with too many distractions. In turn this has tainted my ability to laser-focus in the way that I often preach to others as being critical. It became time to start shedding distractions. So as the leaves fall, so do many of my distractions, one at a time I am removing the clutter and “clearing it out”, you can do the same. Whether it is bad deals, toxic relationships, low return wasted time in personal distractions, old clothes that have sat around and should be donated or given to a friend, crap scattered around the office, you name it–it is time to “clear it out”. Yes, I believe fall represents the phase in which we should simplify life by allowing many of our leaves to fall off. Let us make room for that which is new, that which is important, and that which makes us better as human beings with a stronger, more connected purpose.

There are days where we will feel like the hunter and there will be days when we feel like the hunted. Today on this ridge I am perhaps somewhere in-between, and there are no leaves that remain to hide me from exposure, so every muscle in my body must remain still–except my active fingers typing away. Thoughts fly in and out of my head, but I am present and I am in the hunt. Perhaps what makes this time of year so special is the ability to sit and reflect in solitude like no other time, while remaining in the moment. On one hand I think many people struggle with sitting for hours on end in a tree because they fear boredom, or perhaps they fear the self-reflection, or perhaps they fear slowing down and being present, however for me the hunt is a way of life.

Within the life of the true hunter, there will be highs and there will be lows. However the clarity, the purpose, the focus, and the presence make up much of what I love in life. I have to go now, as a buck is pushing a doe below the ridge from me. Sorry, but the hunt is on…

Image by Lena Lee Photography

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  • Scott Valente

    i can really relate to this david. thank you for the brutal honesty it is refreshing,humble, and real.

  • Jered Gold

    I gave up the sauce last fall and felt alot of same feelings. I was in tougher spot then social though. Thanks for the words they reminded me of how good life is “clearer” as you put it. we do learn lots about ourselves when we take it away from blocking us man.