The end of summer is approaching, made clear here by a gorgeous fresh day. Sunny and warm but no where near the extremes of heat that we were experiencing as recently as last week.

I always feel these seasonal changes deeply. They influence my mood and my outlook. Autumn is my favorite season, yet it is also my saddest. The decay of green into the many and quite beautiful shades of fall brings out a strong sense of loss. At times like this my pessimistic side comes to the fore. This always passes, but not without a period of reflection.

This year it seems easier than ever to be pessimistic. A stagnant economy, a paralyzed political system, a polarized population where the loudest voices scream "I'm right" and you, whoever you are, must be wrong. An accelerating decline in the fortunes of most people, either through no work at all, insufficient work, or work that provides proportionally less and less. Many years ago I reconciled myself to the reality that I would not be as wealthy in real terms as my parents and that the trend is continuing down.

That reconciliation has been relatively easy for me, choosing as I have, a career with little financial reward but greatly pleasing in every other way. Less so it must be for those in jobs they do not like or even hate but trapped into staying with them for the lack of alternatives. And that's assuming again that there's a job to be had. No wonder about 3/4 of the U.S. population think the country is going in the wrong direction. I doubt if equivalent numbers are any better in Europe. In Asia, it might be a different story.

So with the material world coming up so short – and, inevitably it always does – I find myself turning again towards the spiritual to provide inner joy. I'm not a believer in God, but I am a believer in a mystic reality that provides the environment for a belief in God – or gods for that matter. I engage this reality through my love of nature, of landscape, of art, of everything that can provide a frisson of recognition that there is far more to this world than is apparent looking only at the physical reality. There's a lot of sustenance there, and it's completely independent of those material concerns I've just been describing. It provides more than a counterbalance to any pessimistic feelings I may have, but I need to be able to access it freely. Sometimes there are obstacles, from within and without, and it's at those times that life is hardest.

Not today though. The world is green.