the impermanence of things

I was thinking about Sisyphus today, the king compelled to continually push a boulder up a hill, as I raked leaves in the swirling wind. Oddly enough, my leaves didn’t seem to be traveling as much as they should have been but it did make me chuckle about impossible tasks given as punishments. I wonder about Sisyphus, did he accept that pushing that rock was a punishment or did he look at the scenery, internal or external, and escape the drudgery.  Gods can, perhaps, make us do things but what we think about, I like to think, is all up to us.

Every year, someone asks me about the apparent pointlessness of raking, perhaps because it is so clear that I love to rake. I feel like a Zen Buddhist monk raking in sand, meditating while doing ordinary actions. A monk who revels in the ten thousand things rising and falling. The gravel road that we are raking is in one of the loveliest gardens I have ever been in, full of moss, leaves and secret surprises all against the backdrop of the ocean. On a fall day like today, the red of the leaves is brilliant against the blue of the sea – it reminds me of the impermanence of things. So I don’t mind raking up those red, red leaves and putting them in the compost because the action is a performance piece I create and enjoy for myself. I love transient beauty, for me the leaves are around just long enough for me to get satiated and then next year it seems fresh and new again.

The house is very quiet, Yva went off for only the second time ever with her uncle and her cousin. Last time she came back with a horrible rash all over her body (which her uncle and cousin also got) so I am a little apprehensive. I guess it is a mother’s lot to worry – I can’t imagine life with out her. It makes me a little sick just thinking of it. And she wasn’t here in my life until two years ago. Her birthday is coming up, I hope forty years from now we still be snuggling occasionally and I will get to spoil her children. I was at the bookstore today and overheard the owner talking about her daughter on the phone, a daughter who committed suicide not long ago. It is the kind of thing I fear even thinking about.

I found out today that someone who was working at one of our clients houses was laid off just yesterday – it just is unbelievable in a way. Things change so quickly. My father always said don’t let the winds sail you, figure out where you want to go and adjust your sails to continue. He was actually talking about sailing but as a parable for life, often times when the winds change I realize that my goal was not really what I wanted. It’s like that joke where the captain of a tramp steamer (in some versions it’s a US Navy boat or a British aircraft carrier) sees a light in the dark headed towards him and he calls them on his radio saying, “Adjust your course, we have the right of way.” An answer comes back, “You may have the right of way but we are a lighthouse, your call.”


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