Saturday, August 28, 2010

All Things Must Pass

Some time ago I wrote a post about traveling down the road. I haven't gone back to reread that post, and perhaps maybe I should, but then again, maybe I shouldn't read it until after I write this and then compare the two.

In my job I drive around a lot... a whole lot. Now, I love to drive. I love being in the car with the windows open with air rushing in making a total wreck of my hair. Some times I blast my music and some times I relish the silence. I eat lunch in my car almost every day, I usually park my car at the park, in the shade under a big ol' tree. The setting changes from day to day, the parameters do not. After lunch quite often I take a nap before I go back to work. It has become a ritual.

In the mornings on my way to the office I always take the long way around and drive through the park. It is a small park, there is a small river with grass and trees lining either side of the river. Nothing fancy, not very big, but the road along side the river is lined with huge old growth trees on both sides of the road. Of course, there are the rich people's homes beyond the trees, but I don't normally focus on them. I watch the trees.

I watch the trees. The trees and the road have taught me a lesson about life.

Now it may be obvious to most, but for me it was a powerful lesson. As I drove down this road in the park, I was struck that the trees just glide by. One comes into my line of vision, approaches, is right here in front of me, along side me, and then is gone; it leaves my line of vision. It is followed by the next tree and then the next. 

I cannot grasp the tree. If I did I would be yanked out of the car, or break my arm. There is no way that I can hold on to the tree as I drive by it. If I stop the car and hold onto the tree my forward motion has stopped- I go nowhere. To get to my office, I have to allow the trees to come and go. I have to move past them, immediately without ever grabbing so much of a leaf.

This is life, isn't it? All things must pass, to quote George Harrison. We can hold on to nothing. We must let go. When we grasp on to anything, it breaks our arm, stops our journey, and mires us down in the muck.

But, here is the really important lesson that I have learn from the trees... I can never have them. As I pass them I don't ever have them. The tree doesn't pause for even a nanno second, it just goes by without ever stopping, even for a moment. It is gone as fast as it came.

So, what does that mean? It means I can't hold on to anything, any experience, any person. Anything. Ever.

A few years ago my husband gave me the gift of a wonderful massage at a swanky day spa. It was fabulous. There were hot rocks and a massage followed by a one hour facial. It was to die for. Seriously. It was one of the most sensuous experiences of my life. The whole time I was on the table I was thinking, "Oh my God, I could spend my life like this. I don't want it to ever end." I was mourning the loss of this massage even before it was over. After it was over, I realized that I missed most of it because I was so focused on my loss... even before it happened. I missed the experience of the massage because I was stuck in my head.

I vowed that if I ever got another chance at this I was going to allow it to happen and let go of the thoughts of the ending.

Well, I was lucky, my husband signed me up for another massage at this spa again several months later. He's a good husband.

Anyway, this time I went in. It was fabulous again and again I started dwelling in my head. But, this time I stopped it. I stopped the thoughts and the mourning and I consciously focused on the massage that was happening now. I loved it. It was even better than the first time. I felt every movement and pleasure. I felt the warmth of the stones on my back as she massage my feet. I felt the steam opening my pores during the facial and smelled the cream as it softened my skin.

I remembered from the time before that it was coming to an end when she massaged my hands, but this time I was ready. I felt complete because I experienced the whole thing. I knew that someday I would have another massage, this wasn't the end. But, if it was, I had experienced it. I was present. So, if it really was the last massage that I would ever have, I had it, I own it because I really experienced it. I had it because I let it go.

This is what I experience on my drive to work. Each tree is exquisitely beautiful, the morning light shimmers in their leaves, but I can't own that moment, I can only experience it and let it go and move on to the next exquisite moment.

All that I can do is enjoy it as it goes by.

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