In one month from today,
I’ll turn forty.
Does that mean something?
I think it might.
I think it might mean
bidding a fond farewell to a decade of time
book-ended by zeros
and ushering in a new one,
as though it were a crisp,
unwrinkled, never worn gown
to slip into and dance on
endlessly into the night.
Everything that meant anything important
I’ve learned so far,
I’ve learned from unlearning something else.
Like how love means letting go
not holding on,
and a life filled with meaning
has little to do with money.
Or how kindness is a superpower
not a weakness,
and angling towards joy
doesn’t mean to ignore the darkness,
it means to not ignore the light.
I have inherited a body of knowledge
not my own –
a body of paper skin and earthen bones, too.
scarred, broken, perfect.
Did I mention perfect?
There is nothing on this splendid,
spinning, blue-green marble planet,
strung like a pearl on its cosmic necklace,
that wasn’t supposed to happen,
simply for the fact that it did.
If my years so far could be distilled
into one sentiment worth mentioning,
it would be this:
To live a well-contented life,
it’s crucial to stop fighting.
To stop fighting:
To stop fighting with the truth of how every single thing –
and every single one of us, our self included –
is of the nature to change.
Tag Archives: change
It’s easy to sometimes regard the practice of mindfulness and/or meditation as being some kind of magical elixir (especially by new practitioners), as though we could (and should) use them to cure us of our woes and ailments – that somehow if we are mindful enough and meditate enough, we’ll be able to fix whatever it is we feel needs fixing. But, the truth is, sometimes, things are just hard. Having a mindfulness practice and sitting in meditation can strengthen our ability to stay present, balanced, and well-grounded in our own experience of whatever is unfolding – which can be invaluably beneficial – but, in the end, neither mindfulness or meditation can alleviate the causes and conditions of struggle, pain, sorrow, and so on. Our relationship with life can change, but life itself will always entail a certain degree of suffering, difficulty, challenge, and heartache.
What I’m trying to highlight here, is that it’s important not to use the practices of mindfulness and meditation to form some kind of emotional smoke-screen to hide or otherwise distort the simple and very real truth that sometimes life is just hard. And, in my experience, there is a strange and great relief in coming to this understanding. There is a powerful release in being able to simply state, with clear intent, that things are just hard sometimes – without trying to explain further or apologize or rationalize or sugar-coat something for someone else’s perceived benefit. Sometimes, things are just hard. End of sentence.
I recently watched a TED talk given by Susan Kaiser Greenland on the ABC’s of Attention, Balance, and Compassion. In her talk she stated that mindfulness isn’t about changing or fixing, it’s about understanding and being aware. And on one of her slides, it stated: Wisdom comes not from being perfect but from being present. I think we can get carried away and swept up in the false notion of perfection when it comes to a lot of things. But perfection is a relative construct – and I would go so far as to call it a farce.
With the beauty of autumn unfolding here in the Rocky Mountains of Montana I’ve been thinking about the fertile opportunities that transitions offer us. I was imagining what it would be like if there were no autumn season here. What if we jumped overnight from summer to winter? Yikes! Or what if babies grew up in a matter of days rather than a matter of years? Double yikes!
Sometimes transitions can allow us the chance to ease into the impermanent nature of things. They can be a time of richness and spaciousness. They can also be challenging and at times very difficult. Moving from one thing to another thing often takes a period of transition time in between. And this in-between time can often involve inner feelings of both harmony and dis-harmony happening together at the same time.
Whether we’re going from summer to fall, moving from one town to another, parenting an ever-changing, growing child, entering a new phase of adulthood, or starting over in a new job or relationship things take time to adjust to. We are not static beings living in a fixed environment. We are always changing. Our surroundings are always changing. Our loved ones are always changing.
As summer slowly turns to fall with the setting sun edging towards the horizon noticeably earlier each day, my stepson becomes a freshman in high school, and I begin my first job search in 6-7 years (since my health has been improving) I am put in touch with the nature of impermanence. Everything changes!
Hand in hand with the practice of embracing impermanence is the practice of letting go. Oftentimes in order to embrace one thing we must be able to let something else go. In order to embrace fall we must let go of the summer. To embrace our children as they grow and mature we must be able to let go of who they once were and how we, as parents, once treated them. Everything and everyone are of the nature to change. The more we expect things and people and ourselves to stay the same the more we will continue to be disappointed when the opposite inevitably happens.