Thoughts from Annie
This month, Annie has invited guest blogger Linda Loranger to share her thoughts. Linda is a long-time Circle Yoga student, a Year of Mindfulness graduate, and a regular participant in the Wednesday 6:30am sangha at the studio. Annie will return next month.
The Beauty of Impermanence
by Linda Loranger
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
― Robert Frost
I have been having an affair for almost two years now. At first, it was all I could think about, talk about. I actually wanted to get out of bed at 5 a.m. every morning, put my feet on the cold, wood floor and start the day.
What new towns would we explore? How brilliant would the tree colors be against that bright blue sky and the deep green fields below? Would we see a moose on the dirt road?
My love affair has been with the state of Vermont, nature, and being able to really breathe. It’s also been about hitting the pause button to figure out what really matters to me. The “we” in my travels was – and still is – Jazz, my 10-year-old Golden Retriever, always there, always providing never-ending love and acceptance.
It is now time to move on. I write that line with a smile on my face.
When I went to Vermont two years ago I knew my stay would be brief. I rented a house there so that my daughter could participate in an equine work-study program with former U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team rider Denny Emerson. I didn’t know how much I would love it there or that I wouldn’t want to let it go.
Earlier this month, my sisters and I went back to see the Fall foliage, wander the tents at the annual Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, and drink the best IPAs out there. I expected it to be exactly the same as before. I wanted it to be exactly the same. It wasn’t.
But that visit helped me embrace impermanence instead of mourning it.
Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Talk to anyone about fall in New England and their eyes light up, almost channeling the brilliant reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves. The color is glorious, but fleeting. The leaves swirl to the ground, leaving behind a landscape of brown.
This year, the brilliance was missing. The hills were a mix of muddy brown, muted yellow and dull green. At first I was disappointed, but then I saw that the color was different, softer. The dirt roads were still covered with leaves, fallen apples spilled off to the side.
Standing on the fairgrounds at the Sheep and Wool Festival under a monotone grey sky, my sisters and I held steaming cups of cocoa up to our faces, taking in the cool, crisp air. In that moment, I began to realize that impermanence is a good thing. It opens the door to opportunity and embracing the moment.
At this point, you are probably thinking “Okay I get it, leaves change, life changes. What’s the big deal?”
In Vermont, I figured out how important my New England roots were to me, how much just being outside in nature fed my soul. I embraced visiting general stores and community. I fit. For the first time, my work identity wasn’t the driver. When I left, I was afraid I would lose all that.
At home, I tried to hold on to it, not seeing what I had here, escaping back to Vermont in my mind. Instead of embracing the impermanence, I was trying to shut it down. And it was hurting me.
What I know now is that my Vermont experience is not gone. That experience enabled me to pick up a core thread that runs through all phases of my life. I still get up at 5 or so in the morning, and love stepping out onto the cold flagstone of our front walk with Jazz and our new Golden Retriever addition: Coltrane. I breathe in that crisp morning air and look up to see the bright stars. Not a bad way to start the day.
On weekends, we do long trail walks in Rock Creek Park. I get my “rolling hills” fix by driving out to my daughter Madison’s new barn in Maryland farm country. I love going to Washington Nationals games and music festivals with my husband and attending every single Poms performance my high school senior Casey takes to the field.
My community is strong and growing – I find much of it here at Circle Yoga, instead of the small town general stores of Vermont. By letting go of that picture perfect image of Vermont, I now see the life and beauty here. I know that I can create my own sense of self and peace wherever I am.
By letting go, I am opening up. But I must be clear: Vermont really is the best place to get a microbrew. I am still searching for my Sip O’Sunshine and Hill Farmstead brews here. Although I have to say that Waredaca Brewery in Maryland is pretty close.
Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life. – Thich Nhat Hanh