Another Lesson in Life As It Is

Seasonal change triggers changes in rhythms and patterns in our lives.  The ones I’ve noticed particular to the fall season have to do with a shift to a more organized life from one of more flexibility, a change in activities or routine partly due to the change in the environment (less daylight for example) as well as returning to activities after a summer hiatus.  And fall is filled with reminders of the impermanence of life.  The trees that were filled with leaves start dropping them creating a very different landscape, animal burrowing and bird migration signals the coming of the colder weather, and the variety of veggies at the farmers markets will only be in abundance for another few short weeks.  Impermanence is just common sense and at the same time the reality of it – even something very simple – can take us by surprise or even shock us.

Looking up a tree, there are yellow leaves and some blue sky

I had that experience recently when I was playing with my granddaughter on the rocky shore of Lake Michigan.  We built a rock tower with some care – actually, I build it as Amelia found something much more interesting to do.  I carefully constructed the base so it was stable and I carefully chose the rocks for each layer.  It took me about a half hour and while it was a simple thing, I felt quite accomplished at the end.  I moved about 15 feet away, sat on a rock and lost myself in the beauty of the lake.  Then I heard my Amelia say, “Oh look, your tower is gone”.  I turned and sure enough it wasn’t there.  Another child had come along and knocked it down.  Now I know that lakeshore constructions are going to come down, but I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe that my effort and attention ended in it just getting knocked down.  At first I also felt a little annoyed and fantasized about telling the little person that it wasn’t nice to knock down my tower.  Fortunately I caught myself and just sat facing the reality of what was going on – of life as it is.    As I walked away, I told my husband, Steve, my experience and ended it with acknowledging that it was a good lesson in impermanence.

While I was surprised at how quickly what I had created disappeared, I was more surprised at my strong reaction to its loss. It reminded me that what comes into being has a temporary nature and will eventually pass.  This rule applies to all of life of course.  And in the routines of my life, I sometimes forget that and then I remember it again and again…and again.  Fortunately we have the changes of the seasons to call us back to the true nature of life as it is – just as it is – arising, sustaining, and then passing…and that we are all unique expressions of this Life As It Is.

What reminds you of the true nature of life?  What do you need to do in order to flow with life as it is?  How do you want to live your unique expression of life today?

About the author

Suzanne Kilkus

Suzanne Kilkus is a Soto Zen meditation practitioner and teacher and has practiced as a therapist and counselor for over three decades. She is dedicated to assisting people in expanding their capacity for giving and receiving love, and for recognizing and expressing their basic goodness in everyday life. Her path to live with wholehearted compassion and care is an invitation to everyone. She is a teacher with Open Door Zen Community in Madison, WI.