Ephemeral Nature

The “radical ephemerality of the mind.” That’s a phrase from yesterday morning’s yoga class, which kicked off a spring day when the snow just fell and fell.

I happen to love snow, no matter when it falls on the calendar, no matter if it’s wet and sloppy or airy and feathery. Snow brings out the little kid in me. Not for me the grousing of most folks confronted with a late-season blizzard.

In fact, I notice that I want a storm to last longer, snow harder, more more more. Never mind if it means I need to shovel longer/harder/more. There’s still this internal clinging. I believe the Buddhists would call that attachment.

It’s just: I like the draping of snow over every twig and berry. I want that to stay. I want to fill my eyes with that clean beauty. It’s even more precious for being so fleeting. (A few years ago when we were in the deep freeze with that Arctic Vortex, I hated the extreme cold but loved the way it preserved the softness of snow.)

Today I woke up to a different kind of loveliness, with wind and sun conspiring to wipe the snow off every limb. I got out for my walk as soon as I could.

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Watching the ephemerality of  nature (and my mind), I noticed my tendency to focus on past and future moments instead of NOW. Like: This creek view reminded me how I walked on it when it was frozen solid a few months ago. That was another moment I wanted to last forever.

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I decided I would continually draw my attention to the here and now, instead of mentally wishing for something to last beyond its particular moment. “Be where your feet are,” is something I remember Anne Lamott saying, and in my Yak-traxed boots, I did my best.

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The same wind that chilled my face and kicked up snow like desert sand had carved gargoyle shapes on top of this bridge railing.

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Is this the last Yak-trak of the season? Would I step less reverently if I expected more?

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What I’d like to do is pay close attention in every moment regardless of its assigned significance. Barring that, I’d like to remember to remember to remember to come back to the present moment… as soon as I remember to!

Communal

When the sun comes up on these clear mornings, the sky behind the snowcovered trees tints palest tangerine. There’s a beautiful stillness in a frozen world.

Daybreak in the Arctic Vortex

Daybreak in the Arctic Vortex

Something about going through an extreme weather event is lovely in its communal nature. For the second day we are snowed in. We can’t drive out of our alley, and any outings on foot are necessarily short because of extreme wind chills.

So we’ve been keeping tabs on the goings-on in our little burg via a Facebook neighbors’ group.

The dangerous cold and deep snow have given us a glimpse of just how neighborly people are in our quirky neighborhood. I have seen many a plea for help go answered, and many an unsolicited offer appear. Just now someone offered to pick up items on her way home from work if anyone is in dire need. Earlier there was a shout-out to “the awesome guy driving a Caterpillar bobcat and helping people dig out their cars from the aftermath of the plows.”

Someone even asked for—and got—advice on how to get her dog to do his business in this brutal weather. I didn’t read the entire thread, but apparently it was a hoot, discussing canine toileting habits in great detail.

People are offering safe havens, rides to emergency rooms and shelters, and space heaters for those whose furnaces are on the blink. They’re doing for each other in large and small ways—taking baked goods over, walking each other through the crises of burst pipes and power outages, helping everyone feel less alone.

I’m sure this behavior is replicated in many places, much of it never posted anywhere. I didn’t post that the fellow on the corner shoveled not just his walk but the neighbor’s between us, and the guy on the alley behind us helped clear our driveway, but they did, and I thank them.

Dangerous and beautiful

Dangerous and beautiful

Even though I’m tired of being clenched up from cold, tired of the worry over potentially losing power or the furnace konking out (again), part of me relishes these days, both for the astonishing view out my window and for the weird conviviality online.

Part of me wants to put off snowmelt, with its godawful mud and piles of blackened leftover snow. Part of me never wants this communal experience to end.