10/10/2011 09:48 am ET Updated Dec 10, 2011

Fall is Free

The rich, crisp air of the perfect fall day lays a coat of serenity over any beginning-of-school stress. Fall is apple picking. It is red leaves and cherry pie, Thanksgiving morning and wearing a vest, new school supplies and pumpkin-flavored drinks. It is a new start. Of course, fall's calming coat withers with each grade I enter; by the fifth grade, I had convinced myself that I wasn't prepared to enter the real world that was middle school, and by the 11th I had lost all hope of graduating.

And now that the start of senior year has arrived, my comforting coat hides beneath piles of college applications, AP textbooks, study guides and lists of things to do. Fall no longer means peace and tranquility, but pressure and anxiety. With my summer assignments completed and the ACT taken, it is time to move on to other senior responsibilities: soon I will decide between my two favorite schools, finish my college essay, fill out countless college applications, and run multiple school clubs, all so that I can face many more stressful falls. There is so much to do that the simple things, like the colors of the leaves, will go completely unnoticed until they're already gone.

Fall is free. There is no price to pay to watch the seasons change. So why, year after year, are we becoming so overwhelmed that we can't enjoy the scent of the air? Becoming too busy to watch the leaves dance along the ground? Surely, in our busy lives we can find a single spare moment to relax and enjoy what we love, whether that be a season or painting, a TV show or book.

Our obligations can't cast a shadow over the things in which we take delight. Letting the simple pleasures in life pass us by because we have to write an English paper or fill out the Common Application is giving up on happiness, on contentment. Even if an English paper determines our grade and the Common Application determines our future, we shouldn't let them determine our happiness. Instead, we should let them influence our ability to progress, let them teach us about succession and failure. And in between studying for a Math test and taking out the trash, we should let the little things in life inspire ecstasy and cheerfulness, two emotions that will make us more comfortable and pleasant as we do the things, like read a textbook, that take away from the bliss that I call fall. Fall is rain boots and peacoats. It is fireplaces and shivering and shades of orange and gold.

My fall may be your spring. It may be your ocean, the boy that sits next to you in Spanish class, the growl of your car's engine, or the sound of your feet hitting the ground. Fall is my pleasure, my liberator, and my calming friend. Whatever yours may be, embrace it in the midst of all commotion even if it's just for a minute.