Finding Beauty in Impermanence
I must admit, this winter’s Beauty themed edition of Parabola Magazine has inspired me more than usual! (I love Parabola like some folks looooove their dark chocolate . . . oh, you know who you are!)
So much so, it catalyzed a theme for a Winter Solstice mini-retreat here in Tucson on December 19th. I am co-creating the sessions with Jenny Kendall of Desert Horse Yoga and my horse, Bianca. We will have more details soon.
Why is this concept of finding beauty in impermanence so big to me?
Reasons will surely unfold over time. Here is what I have noticed since reading my Beauty edition:
Mother Nature is a most pure expression of it. Everyday when I walk out my back gate, the desert is different somehow. Something changes, always. This morning for example: I was practicing yoga facing my big southern windows, before dawn. The sun was just beginning to peek over the mountains. A pale sherbet hue was cast over my little courtyard and the natural desert beyond. I went into a low lunge, holding anjali mudra at my heart chakra. I had a soft outward gaze, with enough seeing to notice motion beyond my ocotillo fence: one coyote, another three, then one more and finally three more. A pack of eight shiny healthy coyotes, trotting along. Fleeting and oh so beautiful in the dawn’s light!
We are usually fickle about it, yet maybe we can change. Some versions of impermanence, we do view as beautiful. And then some things, we just do not. As “This Ruined House” (a Winter 2010 Parabola article) by Joyce Kornblatt points out: we adore cherry blossoms, despite their very brief appearance in the springtime. Their symbolism in Japan even represents the fleeting nature of life. It is rare though, when a homeowner’s association in the desert lets a fallen saguaro decay in a ‘landscaped area’, despite how many homes it creates for other creatures and how beautiful the bare ribs become.
For me, out of this fickleness arises an opportunity. I love these questions Kornblatt asks: “So what might happen if we stepped more fully beyond the bounds of conventional aesthetics?” . . . What if we lived with a wilderness mind, in which change is the only constant, and the process of decay is recognized as beautiful?” In my ever so humble opinion, I think we would have a gentler, less judgmental outlook on ourselves, not to mention the whole life and death continuum.
We acknowledge impermanence during ceremonies. Mostly, when I assist and serve clients at Sweetgrass, they are acknowledging change. Change in status: leaving their family of origin to marry another. Change in home: mourning the loss of a home and/or taking up a new residence and claiming new space. Change in family: birthing or adopting a new baby. Change in health: facing an illness or recovering from one. Change in physical presence: acknowledging the loss of a loved one, whether an animal companion or human beloved. When we create rituals and ceremonies, we create beautiful space and time that recognizes the impermanent nature of life and honors how change is our constant companion.
In so doing, we hopefully create inspiring and loving impressions in our individual and collective hearts and minds. And as I write, of course I am wondering: how do you find beauty in impermanence?