Sunday, April 06, 2008
Mud season in Northern Vermont makes impermanence comprehensible. It shows us impermanence in action. Today the sun is shining and the mercury has climbed over 50. The trails through the woods and up the hill are alternatively snow, ice, frozen ground, mud, dry, and deep puddles. The earth changes with every step. Water is in all of its forms: frozen, water, and spring vapor that fills my running lungs. Everything is in flux. The earth reveals itself bashfully like a reluctant stripper; showing the brown decay and the perennial green of moss and lichen. And then covering herself over again with deep corn snow and submerging in cool puddles filled with the past like the streams starting to roar. These changes remind me of the changes within myself. From moment-to-moment the body changes. It is hungry, thirsty, and moving in and out of comfort and pain. This, too, is impermanence in action. The sense of the permanence is sustained by the repetition of stories of identity. Such stories are a favorite activity of the Storytelling Mind. I've reflected recently on the nature of identity and the multiplicity of stories that I am engaged with. At any given time, I can identify with being an author (currently writing 5 books), clinical health psychologist and psychotherapist, professor, academic (currently writing 6 articles), athlete (runner, golfer), yogi, consultant and motivational speaker (not to mention homeowner, friend and family member). Not enough time to do them all and choices have to be made. How many different identities do you have? How we relate to these identities is crucial. If they are seen as fixed we can become stuck. If they are seen as fluid and flexible we can engage in a dialog that knows possibilities. Can we allow self-identity to be like mud season? A collection of contradictions and different states of being. Can we make room for everything that is happening without judgment; allowing it all to be there? If so, then we can taste impermanence in action.