Our footprints in life are as evanescent as our footprints in the sand, or in the snow, which makes enjoying the journey all the more important. You really need to seize the moment to leave your mark on a snowy Canadian beach!
The yinyang symbol so simply symbolises the impermanence of all things – there is an endless flow between yin and yang energies, with change the only constant. Night turns to day turns to night again – dark to light to dark again, and so on. Footprints disappear even when we strive to leave our mark.
When we feel ‘stuck’ in a situation, or when the ‘now’ isn’t the way we want to be, it’s very easy to believe in the impermanence of things, to reflect as Eckhart Tolle does, on the eternal wisdom of an ancient Sufi story that ‘this too will pass’. So we can find comfort. Harder of course is to acknowledge, in the midst of enjoying the moment, that good things pass too. So we can appreciate them even more! The answer lies in not labelling anything ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – so that things just are, and won’t always be. And that’s certainly hard sometimes.
While I look to the lessons of yin-yang for inspiration and motivation (and believe me there’s a fair amount of perspiration and exasperation in my labour to learn), when it comes to visualisation there’s an image that always comes to mind, easily, eloquently, reminding me of the nature and beauty of change.
Living near the beach in Australia, I often get to see how time and tide take away the footprints I leave in the sand – evidence of my early morning exercise so easily erased (I swear I did drag myself out of bed for a run walk, and enjoyed it). The ocean surges and retreats with each wave, every tide, swirling sand in an out, carrying away everything but memories. Still the beach prevails against all but the wildest storms and sand sweeps back in, carried by the waves and tides, to build the beach back up again.
Living in Canada last year I got to experience the beauty, and the impermanence of a snowfall. Whilst I’d seen snow falling on a couple of occasions before, I hadn’t experienced a magical blanketing that literally transforms the landscape from green to white overnight, mysteriously whitewashing the past too. Waking to a winter wonderland, it’s possible to believe that a new start is always and infinitely possible. I watched flakes float down around me like frozen confetti, marvelling at how each individual feathery snowflake is unique in its crystalline formation. I listened to the silence, the peace, as snow dusted the ground like dandruff. I sunk deep into a ground that was thick and luxurious with snow. I pinched myself when my backyard looked like a Christmas card.
Then we discovered the ‘beach’ at Alice Lake. We trudged around the frozen lake and found ourselves at what really serves as the local beach in summer – the black and gritty sand iced white by a thick frosting of fresh-fallen, squeaky-soft snow. It would have been picture-perfect beach weather but for the temperature – the sun was out, the sky was blue. But because it was only hovering around one degree, we had the ‘beach’ all to ourselves. We left behind our sunken footprints as we walked across the snow-caked beach, knowing no matter how deep they were they would soon be gone, covered in more snow or melted away. Or else rain would wash away whatever snow remained (and believe me, it certainly rained enough). But it didn’t matter, because the beauty of the snowy beach had left its indelible mark on us.
Whenever I bring that image to mind, with a smile, I can’t help but think that what makes something so beautiful is its very impermanence. Excitement is exhilarating because it is so fleeting.
Yet joy and love are infinitely there to be experienced, in each and every beautiful moment. Even when I’m struggling while sucking it up in the midst of my early morning beach
I’d love to know what images or experiences remind you to appreciate every moment, to live in the present. I’d love to know of the beautiful moments that felt fleeting, yet linger long in your memory. And what about the difficult moments you’ve learned from after they have passed (as they always do)? Please share your experiences, and the love, in the comments below…cheers…kathy