I don’t clutch at winter. I like to gaze at new fallen snow from the cozy overstuffed chair near the fire, but once the snow begins to fall, the skies are full of it and I find no reason to over cherish any single falling. Summer is the same, the days unfurl one after the other, blue skied, hot enough to swim, too buggy to garden but armed with the appropriate chemicals, lovely to swim or walk or bike ride or star gaze. Even during the few absolutely perfect days each summer, I enjoy them and let them pass through me, I don’t wish them to stay longer than their 24-hour cycle. Living in the moment, in the present. Pretending to be an accomplished buddha.
Ah, but not so with the autumn and spring. Transitory, sensuous delights and seasons so short that I can’t help but long for more when they finish. The early crocus, blue bells in the lawn, tulips, daffodils, peonies that debut and fade at full tilt. Every year, I resolve to let it flow through me and then find my heart aching to hold onto the delicate Fritillaria Meleagris for just one more day in the middle of May.
I am no better this time of year. One day there is a golden arching of leaves and sunlight and the next skeletons with barely perceivable buds. Today, there is a lazy shower of red and orange and tomorrow the ground will rustle brown and children will jump in leaf mountains. The very water turns steely while I walk the bay path. Julia and I raked and composted leaves yesterday. We will do it again and again, perhaps until the week after Thanksgiving, as our trees let go of their bounty. The leaves falling in the back garden to go into my compost piles and those in the front raked and piled awaiting retrieval by city composters. I know the round of autumn duties outside and in – the cutting back of perennials and pulling of annuals, the cleaning of beds and mulching of a tender biennials, the storing of equipment and making garage room for the wintering of the car, the pulling down of storm windows and listening to the silence of one more layer of glass between the neighborhood and myself, the piling of wood and setting out fireplace tools — and all the while I wish for one more day, one more minute, one more gazing up and taking in of sights and sounds and smells that even now have dimmed. What I have is never enough. I want more and I don’t want to let go.
I have not clutched at the unfolding of a happy life. I celebrated milestones without formal portraits. I did not video Cheshire’s concerts or Julia’s gotcha day. I allowed myself to depend on memory and rely on a partner to help me recall what I had not retained. In a happy life, it is easy to be the accomplished buddha.
The present, however, is no longer a time of assumed accomplishments. It is a laboring time. Not of painful clutchings and releases but of shadows and ghosts that linger. I no long struggle with sorrow although sometimes, while aiming for joy I stumble and forget the places that it hides.
Today, like other days, I seek guidance and find it Rumi’s words:
“Your task is not to seek for [joy], but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
“What you seek is seeking you.”
And into these words I breathe.