Friday, June 22, 2018

Ephemeral




"Life is too short".

I was watching something on television when one of the characters blurted those words.

A friend of mine recently died. Though I feel like I need to write about him to fully confront what happened, I don't think I'm quite ready. All I can think about right now are exactly those words: Life is too short. It was definitely too short for him.

We often say those words to preface things we waste time on. Life is too short to waste on anger; to waste on negative people; to waste on a job we hate; to worry about things we can't control, and so on and so forth. The subtext of course is that we don't want to be reckless with the limited time we have and more importantly, that we feel we don't have enough of it. 

But what if for some, life is just not short enough? With all the recent celebrity suicides and even for my friend who died suffering from cancer, death just could not come sooner. For some, they've had enough and couldn't take any more of life and everything it had to offer them. Maybe life offered them too much of what they didn't want and too little of what could have saved them and made them want to breathe longer. 

None of us are immune to complaints and darker shades of thought. On our more enlightened, grateful days, it's easier to see that life is too short and we're able to focus on what enriches us. But I'm certain there are days when everything just feels too exhausting and a faint voice awakens, saying that the only respite lies in a final surrender. It's a push and pull, seesaw struggle, and it's not always so easy to push against the ground to hoist ourselves toward happiness and contentment. But what might help, and what helps me, is precisely the idea that everything is ephemeral. Not one moment, whether of joy or sorrow, defines our lives. Make friends with 'This too, shall pass', and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Believe that everyone else is still just figuring things out no matter how put together they may seem. 

Everyone is on that seesaw ride and you just need to remind yourself of what the child in you has always known...that the most fun part of that ride is the push you can muster every time you hit rock bottom.















Saturday, June 9, 2018

Beauty in Flow


We recently just got back from our Pacific Northwest vacation, hitting up Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, and Vancouver, Canada. One week was definitely not enough to explore this beautiful region. There were just far too many sights to visit and way too many good eats to reasonably cram in a week without going broke and suffering from indigestion. 

One of the most memorable sites we managed to visit was the Portland Japanese Garden. I love trees and bonsai, so I knew I would enjoy this place. We also had the most perfectly sunny yet cool weather the day we visited which made the whole experience even more delightful. The place wasn't crowded, it wasn't hot, there were no bugs flying around, and all this contributed to such a serene experience for me. 



My son was shocked to hear me say that I felt calm while we were at this garden. Yes, that's truly rare for me. To feel calm in a public place, while simultaneously feeling in awe of all the wonders that surrounded us. 

As I was walking around the garden, I couldn't help but notice the beautiful landscaping; how every greenery was intentionally planted yet still respecting the possibility of chaos that defines nature. I truly believe the internal calm I felt was a result of the palpable harmony that was everywhere in this paradise. 

Everywhere I looked, I did not find or feel 'resistance'. If there was an awkward slope, they worked with it and made it beautiful instead of flattening them or making them convenient. Trees stood where they stood not as an afterthought or to decorate bridges and pathways. These old creatures remained tall and magnificent while such bridges or pathways humbly weave in between wherever they were allowed. Where two trees had intertwined branches, a trellis was created to showcase the marriage of these graceful limbs. It was harmony everywhere and I knew my soul felt it. 

I felt refreshed, invigorated yet profoundly serene and I wanted to keep that state for as long as I could. Deep down, however, I knew that soon after stepping out of the garden, I would lose that feeling and would be left craving it. 







This desire to hold on to that inner space of peace led me to go back to my favorite definition of Peace, and how much the garden's landscape captured it so well:

"Whenever you deeply accept this moment as it is — no matter what form it takes — you are still, you are at peace." 

 Eckhart Tolle

I spend so much time of my daily life keeping things as neat as possible; expending countless amounts of energy trying to create order around me and within me, analyzing things, making sense of events, motives, the past, the present and making the future as predictable as possible. 

I resist. A LOT...though I have certainly improved in the area of acceptance as I've gotten older. 

There is much work to be done. But I thank Life for showing me that in those times when I did not resist, in those times when I accepted what was and just flowed with things beyond my control or sense of agency, I found harmony and order in the end. Putting aside hurt egos, broken aspirations, or unanswered questions, I'm still able to acknowledge that my life has been blessed and that I had been spared from even greater pain or a burden I would not have been able to survive. 

The path may be encumbered with stubborn roots, rocks and the path may be uneven at times. But if we keep on the journey with grace and flow with where life directs us (and it always does if we listen hard enough!), there is always peace. Beauty will be undeniable.