Reya posted a marvelous piece called Just Passin' Through that reminded me of my Zen (or Buddha) Board, a small paper drawing board, square and framed, made of magic stuff. There is a tapered Chinese paintbrush near it and a shallow bowl that holds water. When you dip the brush and pull it slowly over the paper, the lines appear almost black. They gradually fade to grey and then disappear altogether. No matter what you paint there–a mistake or a masterpiece–the lines become paler and vanish. Nothing stays, no matter how unsatisfactory, no matter how perfect.
It’s a concept I struggle with, that of inevitable change. I don’t mind when the flawed pictures I make fade out of existence. In fact, the lines disappear so slowly that often I become impatient. When I create a thing of beauty, however, I am loath to see it recede. I am using the Zen Board to teach myself to let go of both with equal ease.
As beautiful as spring is, with its green days and fragrant flowers, or summer with its symphony of bird song and riotous colors, they too will pass away. Winter will draw new lines, starker ones, and paint the landscape in shades of grey, of deep purple and sable brown. Then, even as we watch, the dark marks made by the winter months will in turn fade and spring will take up the brush to paint the leaves and flowers anew.
If we let it, nature can show us that impermanence is not bad in and of itself. Knowing that something is fleeting can ease an intolerable situation and give us hope of respite. We may yearn for what has gone or wish for more time to savor what we don’t want to lose but we are also shown that we can treasure the moment. We can look around us and realize that now is the time to appreciate and that now includes the past and the future as well as the present.
Endings teach us about beginnings. Beginnings teach us that all things come to a close. As we cycle in and out of all our life stages, the lines we drew so darkly at first (as though they were permanent self-borders) become hazy, making way for new perspectives, new horizons. We find that our very lives are Zen Boards and the brush strokes that trace our thoughts will fade and be drawn again, over and over.