Autumn has arrived and summer has departed. It is the time of other arrivals and departures on the Island. Leaf peeper buses are more common now and many derby contestants have been hard at it on and offshore. Those are perhaps the notable arrivals.

On the departure side are those younger people who have left to begin to pursue their dreams. Many are leaving home for the first time. When you encounter one of these young people the excitement is palpable. It is born of mystery. Those of us who have jumped that jump into the unknown can recall the circumstances of that first leaving. For some it may have been to college, others joined the service and some, perhaps a smaller number, decided to just hit the road and see the world.

It is a much different environment these days with the virus and all that’s going on and has gone on these past few years. It may be that the jump kids are taking is from a higher elevation, into a greater mystery.

Recently, I talked to a kid I know well just days before his departure.

“Are you excited?” I asked.

“Yes, I am,” he replied.

It was a short response and I continued: “Well, I love you, be safe, have a great time!”

“Love you too,” came the short response but I could sense his excitement. He had chosen to forgo school and instead was headed to Wyoming to join a sort of Outward-Bound type group and he was slated to be gone for a year.

A few days later he left unceremoniously but when he got to the airport it was discovered that he had left his ID back on the Island. Luckily, the family had a car on the other side and the father retrieved the ID and hopped on a boat and brought the lad the document.

That brings to mind the other side of this equation, the dilemma of the parents, wanting kids to survive and thrive on their own but also being there to come to the rescue if need be. The kid is on the path of becoming and the parents are on the path of letting go. Both are tough journeys.

Personally, I never treaded the latter path of having a child and watching them depart on their own for the first time, but it seems like I have been on the former side my whole life, which is perhaps not a bad thing and one that is common to all of us.

My leaving home was also unceremonious and occurred when I was still in high school. I had been invited to go to a concert at Madison Square Garden with two girls I knew from school. When I asked my dad if I could go he told me that if I went to the concert I wouldn’t be welcome back home.

Nowadays, that would seem a harsh imperative but back then in the 1970s things were different. I already had a job in town and as a Boy Scout I had training in camping so I packed my pack, went to the show and then went to stay in the woods. Yes, there was a rift in my relationship with my father but in the long run I think he was proud that I had the gumption to follow my own path, to jump off the cliff and see where I would land.

Years later I called him from Colorado where I was off on an adventure to tell him that I wouldn’t be returning to Massachusetts, where I had been offered a job in a bakery in Provincetown. I had decided to stay at the bakery that I was working at in Boulder.

He paused on the line and then said: “Well, I wish you would come back sometime and we could have a chat. You know, a lot of times we parents think we know everything but I’m beginning to think we could learn from you kids.”

He died two days later. Life had given me another cliff.

As I think of it now, I think it was the ultimatum he gave me that actually shaped my life. He gave me a choice: stay in the cocoon of safety or venture out into the unknown. Jump the cliff if you dare.

Everyone faces that choice, more often than not many times in our lives. So now when I see a younger person make the leap I can’t help but think that the parents too are making a leap.

To both all I can think to say is, Godspeed.

Joe Keenan is a roofer, baker and musician living in West Tisbury.