Jeanette and I recently made our now annual pilgrimage to northwest Colorado to hunt antelope. The trip is a welcome retreat from the daily grind back to a way of life which is more physically strenuous and yet more spiritually rewarding.The freezing rain on the first day quickly reminded us that it's that time of year again. A time when the world around us changes themes.
Summer's outward display of unbridled growth gives way to the inward focus and more conservative policies of autumn. Chipmunks hide pinecones, trees give up their leaves in favor of root development, big game animals feed furiously to store up energy in body fat, fish head to the deep waters, and birds move to more temperate climates. Every year at this time we witness the instinctive behaviors which guarantee biological preservation. Instincts which have been genetically programmed through years of evolutionary practice. All of Mother Nature is saving up for a rainy day.
These annual rhythms of nature remind us that life is like a short-term loan and that before long we will all be held accountable for how we have invested this precious asset. Unfortunately, as our country grew into the largest industrial nation in the world, we slowly distanced ourselves from these natural reminders of our need to prepare for the future.
With the technological advancements of the past 100 years, our material needs are virtually guaranteed year round. There is never a shortage of cereal at the store, strawberries in January are not unheard of, and a simple adjustment of the thermostat can make us feel as toasty in December as on the 4th of July. With the exception of farmers and ranchers who still work the soil and tend to the needs of their herds, for the average American the imperative of the Fall Harvest has all but vanished. And in its wake the annual reminder of our own vulnerability and fundamental mortality easily gives way to the belief that we are invincible and perhaps even immortal.
The signs of this misguided belief are seen everywhere. We begin to view the world as a very small place, which is completely predictable and controllable. We lose our sense of mystery and wonder. Nothing is bigger than "man." Man knows everything and controls everything. Man can have anything he wants and he deserves nothing but the best.
Eventually the reality of our own physical and emotional frailty is exposed through some unfortunate accident or unsatisfied need and our response is to look for someone or something to blame. Since the philosophy of invincibility and immortality dictates that we deserve nothing but the best, everything undesirable can only be the direct result of malice on the part of someone else. Ultimately we become divided and isolated in our own small, completely controllable little worlds, frustrated as we try to explain away the mortality of our human nature.
Mother Nature reminds us of these truths each fall, reminding us not to waste our lives.
Mark Coleman was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1954. His father was a chemist, his mother a retail clerk. Mark’s only sibling, an older brother, demonstrated outstanding scholarship which inspired Mark in his own education. Mark’s family enjoyed midwestern life, spending much of their free time camping, fishing and touring the Ozarks.
After earning a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Purdue University, Mark moved to Colorado in 1977 to accept a position with Hewlett Packard (HP). Mark met Jeanette at HP and they were married in 1981. Their two daughters and 4 grandchildren all live in Colorado.
Mark retired from HP in 2018 and continues to live in Fort Collins. He now enjoys being a part-time beekeeper, a volunteer for the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas and he is a “sometimes” speaker on executive leadership topics, corporate storytelling and beekeeping. Yes, they are all related