Easy Endings

Endings can be hard. Last night, when my husband and I went to the food gardens to harvest vegetables and peaches, we were both shocked by how quickly the plants are dying and the gardens are winding down.

The melons are covered with hundreds of June beetles, which don’t damage the melons (just wipe the beetles off with your hand). But they’re a sure sign that the melon plants are aging and weakening. The cucumber plants are turning brown and producing very little now, and the cukes are small. The tomato plants are beginning to yellow, and their production is much slower.

Insects are gnawing at the tomatoes. The kale is leggy and tough. Basil and parsley are throwing out flowerheads faster than ever. In fact, everything is rushing to flower now, another sign that they know they’re reaching the end of their lives, and want to drop seed before they die. We picked lots of beautiful green peppers, but I have a feeling that these may be some of the last of them. Many of the bean plants are withering, and they’re producing fewer and fewer beans.

Food gardens have a sledgehammer way of letting you know that summer is ebbing away. With very little fanfare, they just stop. Today is August 25. In a few days, September will be here, and with it the time to start breaking down the food gardens, tilling fallen and rotted veggies into the soil, storing trellises, pulling in potted plants, and turning our attention to the long winter.

It may stay warm through October, but gardens don’t pay heed to Indian summer. As the days shorten, the nights cool, and we move away from the sun, food plants very quickly drop the curtain.

Now is the time that I must keep reminding myself of the nature and inevitability of impermanence. Everything is always changing and shifting. Everything is born, and dies; born, and dies. And never is this more apparent than in the gardens right now.

The nature of impermanence is the most relevant teaching of the Dharma. We live with constant change. Everything is ungovernable. Transformation is the nature of all things. The appearance of things dissolves and we must let go of all attachments to them. In the gardens, we plan, plant, cultivate, harvest, and then let go. Over and over again.

We experience this change in ourselves too. Be it sickness, aging, or death, we, like the gardens, are ungovernable, and insubstantial. We, like the gardens, are always experiencing transformation. Groundlessness is the nature of everything: there’s nothing, really, to hold on to. We own nothing, including our gardens. We get to experience things, but none of it is ours to keep.

After we were done picking vegetables last night, I felt sad. No matter how many times I play a part in this cycle of birth and death in our gardens, I feel sad. I think of change and loss and death, and I feel afraid. So, I went inside, wandered off alone, and meditated.

My mantra was simply, ‘relax’. Relax into impermanence. Relax with the sequences. All life is a drop of dew on a blade of grass: no sooner does it appear than it disappears. All experience and all life is incredibly brief. The Buddha held these truths of impermanence above everything else.

Today, I’m reminding myself how we are all interconnected with everything, everywhere, and all the time. Just as a drop of water escapes from a waterfall, it will, sometime during its descent, return to the waterfall and become a part of the whole again. This garden, this life, are temporal things that emerge and withdraw, ebb and flow, begin and end. Gardens and lives emerge from the whole, travel autonomously for a while, and then return to the whole.

When the appearance of things dissolves, we can, with ease and happiness and without fear or pain, let go. There can be a stillness of awareness beneath it all, beneath the roar of the waterfall, to which where we, the drops of water, will all soon return. It’s a precious and magical experience. Be embracing of it. Let’s all take our seat in the mystery of it.

Much love,
Barbie xo

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