mourning the loss of spring


yellow blossom2POSTCARD#61: Chiang Mai: Looking at all these posts written by my blogger friends about springtime in the Northern hemisphere and something stirs in me… that urge for seasonal change, I want to be there. No seasons in Thailand, every day is pretty much like the day before. Time disappears, days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years. The whole thing is one very, very long day – night interrupts the flow, hardly noticed, and goes unremembered like the blink of an eye.

New leaves bud, grow, turn brown, fall and get swept away all through the year. There’s no autumn, no winter, no snow, no hibernation, no spring returning. The same bright light day after day, everything is awake all the time, and there’s an exhaustion about it. Necessary to take a rest in the afternoons, find my place bookmarked in the dream… I remember the silence of no ceiling fans. Natural AC, always a chill in the air and the sky a curious indistinct grey, sometimes, neither one thing nor another. It suits the transitory way of things, anicca.

I am a hoarder of old notes and among these there are references to spring in Switzerland, enthusiastic words written by a younger ‘me’ about buds beginning to appear on that yellow shrub that’s always the first to have colour around lac de Genève. Birdsong and smells of growth or greenness, leafy fragrances, moss and pebbles and the presence of the lake, lying there on its side like some vast mysterious being.

Date: 26 March 2001. Spring has sprung and just yesterday morning around 6am I suddenly noticed there wasn’t any birdsong and how could that be, what happened and why so dark? But it was because it’s all one hour earlier than the clock says (daylight saving time) and birds don’t change their watches.’

And another note about going to teach an English class in zone industrielle, Date: 10 April 2001. Yesterday was a bright sunny day and about 11 am, in the garden outside the building, I noticed the cherry trees with buds and tiny bits of bright pink. At 12.30pm, class was over and when I came past the same cherry trees, the buds were totally open and blossoms everywhere. It’s like Spring suddenly happened in just over an hour…

In the same way, it can disappear in an hour and I’m mourning the loss of spring… then that changes too. Everything is impermanent, including the idea that everything is impermanent – steel embedded in concrete, seemingly permanent, demolished by a man with a jackhammer in a single afternoon. But we don’t want to believe it, reluctant to accept that the world is so fragile, touch it and it falls to pieces – almost as if it’s not there.

Seen from the apartment here on the third floor, level with the tree tops, these exotic yellow and black squirrels jump around as if they had wings. Tremendous long leaps and landing: crish-crash! Branches spring back, rise up with the weight like uncontrollable laughter, high in the tops of slender trees, boughs bending to take the mass of one small body chased by another. Always having to catch up, never getting there, I follow them dashing through the foliage, my eye leaps in the field of vision – where are they now? The “now” moment slips from my grasp, I focus on it and it escapes. A new moment arrives, or is it the same one continuing from before? World without end….

‘…linear time melts in the now, self-dissolving, fading into space; 
days and dates fade away; months, years and eons dissolve; 
the one and the many vanished, sacred and profane both clarified;
 the delusive ground of samsara and nirvana clarified in its innate spaciousness. Even “spaciousness”, as an intellectually contrived entity, dissolves.
 Whatever we have practiced, however we strive, is useless now,
 and intellectual gall exhausted, what a great marvel is the sky.’ [Longchenpa] source

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Photo: View from 3rd floor window and the trees where the squirrels play, yellow blossom appearing now it’s the hot season

 

21 thoughts on “mourning the loss of spring

  1. Have you seen the movie “Groundhog Day?” It seems a bit like a romantic comedy but is actually quite profound and describes just what you describe but it is everything the same, everyday, not just seasonless, but all the events that happen in 24 hours. In any case, a beautiful post and I love the quote and will visit that site tomorrow. Having a light show in my eyes tonight. Thanks for sharing. By the way, the main character in the movie goes from being a jerk to a saintly like person because he can not escape the sameness of his life.

    • I haven’t seen the movie and it sounds like something I need to watch, so I’ll look for it in iTunes. This weekend is a quiet time for me, I’ll be able to watch it. Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll get back to you later…

      • Well, the movie is billed as a philosophical comedy. It is certainly not my favorite film and not on my recommended list, but it does pertain to your post and offers some thoughts that are worthwhile. Have a good weekend!

      • I just finished watching the movie you suggested I watch, ‘Groundhog Day’. Yes, I see what you mean, there something about it that resembles what was said in the post. I’d not seen it before and had to google ‘ground hog day’ because I didn’t know about that tradition. Wow, don’t really know what to say… curious coincidence, thank you for noticing – and also for telling me about it. It’s maybe that anicca (Buddhist impermanence) is a universality and can be found in any context. Really, I’m grateful for the observation…

      • Glad you were able to find it and saw the relationship to your post. Impermanence does seem to be a universal. Spring is just starting here. And so the cycle goes on. Even the cycle can seem the same though every second is different.

      • Thanks for this new direction and I’m grateful to you for pointing out this curious thing about sameness. It’s like there’s a mirrored recognition of each experience of the moment because it’s too much for the perceptive faculties to absorb and analyse according to preferences… how to decide what it’s going to be this time? Limitations of the mechanism. So it comes out as a same-but-different, kind of thing…

      • In further thinking and in light of a video by Eckhart Tolle on being present just watched:

        Your post about constant sameness has a further dimension… Things may seem the same but every micro second (or whatever the smallest division of time is) is different than the last and like Tolle says we only have the present. And as my husband says, the paradox is that the constant change gives the feeling of sameness. We feel that the very changing is the same.

      • The first time I saw Eckhart Tolle I thought he looked like Mr Bean – that feeling has gone now and I’m glad, because I want to have a more respectful feeling about this amazing teacher. Even so, I still find an uncontrollable mirth about his funny facial expressions and gestures. All kinds of interesting points made in this video and the sense that no matter how closely ‘presence’ is examined or experienced, it’s still an enigma. It could be the feeling of sameness and change is a characteristic of the illusion… it suits me to simply call it that, and continue observing. Thanks for sharing this, I shall watch it again…

      • He DOES look like Mr. Bean (I couldn’t think of who he reminded me of, thank you) and IS very funny but what he says is near genius. Think I will watch again, too.

  2. I can understand your melancholy. There was a time when I thought that the perfect life would involve following spring around the world. Now I notice the never ending change in any season and feel the life force that drives it. Dirty slush snow in December is as beautiful as the little geese I saw trailing there watchful mum yesterday. There are times when I’m stopped in my tracks by the fact that I can see at all. I don’t mean that my eyes work, but that there is a reality that I witness and that I am at the same time. But having said all that, the evidence of life and reality of spring is so in your face that even the most dumbed down soul can’t miss it. That’s me at times too 🙂

    • Thanks Henk. Yes, looking at the sensory mechanism itself reveals the whole world… every question you can think of ends up here. It’s enough to ponder that. Sometimes hard to do this kind of thing in tropical countries where the sun shines like a TV studio light unobscured, there’s a feeling of being dazzled or dazed, and stunned by it. Living in a dream…

  3. It’s hard to imagine living with one season. My husband grew up in San Diego and I’ve often thought I would enjoy living day after day in all that sunshine. Here in Oregon, winters are long and full of rain. It’s too much. Spring affects many of us in a zany way. The increase in energy levels is almost too much. But when summer arrives, th big sun slows us down, and as you say, calls for afternoon naps just to endure the long day.

    But you’re right. as that Arrowsmith song says, “I know nobody knows, where it comes and where it goes.” World without end, yes!

    • Interesting to consider how climate is linked with human behaviour (emotional/psychological) in the sense of comparing geographical regions. You don’t notice it really unless you have a connection with two locations like San Diego and Oregon, for example – travelling often enough between these places and over a long enough period to be able to see the difference it makes. After +20 years in the East, I see the Thais are less stormy and reactive than Westerners, they can construct a kind of containment of emotions, and a factor could be this experience of one single constant sameness in weather conditions throughout a whole lifetime. Just thinking how we in the northern hemisphere are continually shaken out of any kind of stability we manage to create and faced with these extremes of heat and cold, storms then a calm quietness…

      • A most interesting correlation!

        Perhaps that would go a long way to explain the a certain segment of the western european (many whose descendents finally settled in America) population’s underlying discontent that historically propels a search for technology to change the environment rather than accept it.

      • All kinds of cultural conditioning too, of course, but climate is the underlying factor – and there are manipulative forces that drive the population towards a dependancy on consumer goods, etc. Thus the change in the deep meaning of spiritual truths to get it to go in that (deductive) scientific direction. Whereas, the Eastern (inductive) way of seeing the world continues pretty much as it has been for centuries. Today I see there are Western influences but it’s less intrusive.

  4. I think I miss snow…for if there is snow, there is Winter and then in the Spring I have tulips 🙂
    Texas is not know for tulips except in pretty pots around Spring and Easter sometimes Mother’s day…
    I wonder if there is anywhere that truly has four seasons anymore…when I lived in Alaska, I remember watching sweet peas grow up the fence during the day, as well as snow peas….Alaska has four seasons, but Spring and Summer seem to hurry not be slowly emerging from Winter and Summer is not the lazy days of swinging on the porch with a good book to read…
    Yes Ground Hog Day sounds like your world …my world is Ground Hog Day but for other reasons …sad, because it feels like some days it will never change
    but its coming, I feel it….
    I am watching the Moon rise, so bright yellow with a mist around it, the deer are standing under the trees as if watching it too…
    We live in such a wonderful place….Earth….Ground Hog Day or not LOLs…
    I have cleaned gardens, planted two vegetable beds, did cuttings from pruning, planted seeds as it has been in the 80F’s and nights 50-0’s…as I decided to look at the weather, tomorrow storms and 38F for the low …*sigh* so tomorrow I will spend
    the day setting glass containers over my tender seedlings…

    and now I have rambled on about Texas in Spring time so I will let you get on with your day…
    As always I enjoyed reading your thoughts….Thank you for sharing your world with us
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

    • Thanks maryrose, good to hear what it’s like in Texas in springtime and this lovely image of the deer in the trees watching the moon rise. I read something about the April moon being a total lunar eclipse? Your example of Alaska reminds me of the North of Scotland where I was brought up – we had four seasons there although the winter was very long and snow was a fact of life. Yes, Ground Hog Day continues here in Chiang Mai today (Monday) max: 100F min: 74F. There was some rain in the night and tree blossoms come out as soon as it’s daylight so when I open the window and stick my head out, 3rd floor and level with the tree tops, there’s a wonderful fragrance of these flowers. I hope you get your glass containers set out with seedlings as planned and all is well in your gardens. Thanks for your visit…

  5. The dream of spring is so sweet. After weeks in a row without a day above freezing, our squirrels have become kamikaze acrobats- little glass goggles, scarves, bombardier caps- the whole bit. They have Formula One races up, down, and around the tall pines out back, clawing and ripping their way in ascending spirals, sending shards of bark flying through the air in their wake.

    The pace of other creatures’ awareness must be very different from out own. How do they move so fast, changing direction all the time in the blink of an eye, sometimes probably twice at once, and yet maintain this game of tag for minutes on end? My mind is not fit for squirrel life. Last fall, as winter’s jaws were closing, we saw one squirrel dragging 2/3 of an apple backwards up a tree. That’s like me climbing a rope with a couple of 20 kilo sacks of concrete mix in one hand. The seasons will make us do strange things. 🙂 Life offers snippets of entertainment along the way at least.

    Michael

    • Thanks Michael, I do envy your experience of Spring! Squirrels are squirrels though… I was reading about this kind of thing in terms of a ‘reality tunnel’. The brain receives billions of signals every minute and out of them we select a small portion and make a picture we call reality – it’s our reality tunnel. A mosquito comes in the window and its reality tunnel is entirely different from, say, a squirrel’s reality tunnel, etc. The tunnel metaphor makes sense to me… [video source: Robert Alton Wilson]

      • Love the idea of reality tunnels. That makes complete sense to me. Whatever is inside of our brains performing the packet switching at undisclosed neuron junctures that distills the information cloud into a discernible worldview strikes me as being akin to Maxwell’s Daemon.

        Kind of makes you wonder: who is doing this interpretive data-mining, where are the results displayed, and for who’s benefit? How many of us are there in there? 🙂

        To man a post 24 hours a day, seven days a week, probably takes a crew of at least four highly-trained information sifters. Maybe this is why our thoughts are so inconsistent. We get the weird ones at night. At the end of the current crew’s contract, I’m going to ask Hafiz if he’s interested in the job… 🙂

        Michael

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