We find ourselves in a powerful and transformative time of year – an interim period between two seasons. The spring equinox was a few weeks ago, but the ground of the northern hemisphere is still remembering the winter and just beginning to wake up to the promise of the warmer months.
This transitory phase is celebrated by spiritual traditions the world over, a living symbol of rebirth and the circle of life.
In honor of spring, I’d like to explore a concept that lives at the very heart of the seasons as well as the wisdom traditions of both shamanism and Buddhism.
Sitting on the threshold of winter and summer, cold and warm, dark and light, it’s hard not to be in awe of the ever-changing nature of this reality we find ourselves in.
“Real flowers are much more beautiful than plastic ones, in part because of their impermanence. We appreciate the seasons, the autumn and the spring, because they are a process of change. In this way, impermanence is beauty.” – Chögyam Trungpa
The longer I live in this body named Nick, the more I realize just how closely the laws and cycles of our personal world match those of the outer world around us. Nothing in our lives will stay the same, and that fact can bring both comfort and challenge.
If you’re hosting a disagreeable guest in your house who is disrupting your daily routine, the notion of impermanence comes as a relief – “thank god he or she is only going to be here for a few more days!”
But, remember those last few days of summer vacation growing up? You couldn’t quite squeeze them for all they were worth because of the looming back-to-school doldrums. “Please don’t let this end!!!”
“Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things.” – Pema Chodron
When we open ourselves to the possibility that the quest for permanence in a constantly changing world is futile, something shifts within us. We see our former end goal of “happily ever after” for what it truly is – a shimmering mirage on the horizon that is always just outside our grasp.
Once the cosmic jig is up, our lives become less about establishing and defending and more about allowing, flowing, and sensing. Like a tango dancer on a moonlit terrace in Buenos Aires, we learn to love the changes, keeping our minds clear so that we can react in the blink of an eye to any dip or surge in tempo.
Change is guaranteed.
Surrendering to this fact is an essential part of the path. By doing so, we arise from the ashes of who we once were, stronger of heart and able to hold space with compassion in any situation.
When we’re experiencing pain, the suffering can be heightened by the fear that the pain will never stop. When we’re experiencing pleasure, the pleasure can be thwarted by the sad truth that nothing lasts forever.
The wise know not to grab or shun either of these, but instead learn to nurture space between their spirit and anything the world outside brings to their doorstep. By not pulling toward or pushing away, we are able to give full presence to every change that happens in our life – the good, the bad, and the ugly 🙂
Here’s to the essence of spring and finding harmony in an ever changing world.