embracing the sandcastle paradox (or not)

Part of me really does understand that the awareness that Everything must someday come to an end changes the quality of my experience.

Knowing that anything could change at any time keeps me humble, attentive, and grateful, and reminds me not to take anything or anyone for granted.

And yet, I also notice that there's another part of me that just wants to close my eyes to this fact of life, and pretend that there is something solid, dependable, and trustworthy to lean on.

Unfortunately, I can't get away with that anymore.  The illusion of physical and emotional security has become so flimsy and transparent that I can't even pretend to rest in it.

I imagine that at some point, I may find shelter and comfort within the awareness that everything is transitory, but that hasn't happened consistently quite yet.  So for now, I vacillate back and forth between acceptance and fear, excitement and grief.

Some days I am quite content to build elaborate castles in the sand, even though I know they will inevitably be destroyed.

Other days, I think, Meh... why bother?  It will just get washed away anyhow.

But then, after a little while of just sitting there apathetically, I look around and think, Well, gee, what else is there to do here on this beach, really?  That sand does feel good to play with.  Spose I might as well build something ... 


markmarv2004 said...

Karen--this is right on, well said, exactly where I am at the moment. I am facing two medical procedures with cancer this week, so I am very aware of the tides that are coming in and threatening my lovely, comfortable castle. I can't change their regular arrival and departure. I've tried to build my castle high on the beach. But, current circumstances make me aware of my castle's vulnerability now, later (I'm 74), but inevitably. So I am acutely aware of the combination of fear and grief. I still have castles to build. The unknown is daunting. Hmmm. Another wave...
Thank you for this--Mark, Kate's dad

karen alonge said...

bless your heart, mark! daunting indeed. thank you for taking the time to share this. It sure puts things in perspective for me. I'll be thinking of you this week as you walk through this part of your sweet and precious journey.

livelihood pliant said...

Does your sandcastle opinion change depending on what you think happens when we make our transition? Just curious.

karen alonge said...

interesting question, pliant!

Personally, I don't give much thought to what happens when we make our transition - I just know that I'm not at all worried about it, and feel fairly confident that the creating will continue in some way, shape or form. Too much magic has happened in my life for me to accept that I stop at the end of my conscious awareness - there's gotta be a lot more going on than what I can perceive.

I don't seem to be bothered by my own impermanence as much as I am by the impermanence of people and relationships I really enjoy. But I think I've almost lived long enough to know in my bones that there's always another wonderful experience just around the bend ... where one castle falls, another will rise. And even so, grief happens anyway. Seems to be part of the human experience.

Sue K said...

Your sandcastles touch, move and connect you with others making their mark remain long after they have physically washed away. We cannot know how far these ripples will reverberate. I say keep building dear sister, keep building!

By the way, sounds like you're doing just as Joseph Campbell used to prescribe: following bliss.

With love to you and best wishes to Mark,

Jeff Patterson said...

I hadn't read this post until this morning, but last night as I was getting ready for sleep, out of nowhere I started thinking about this very subject - and it's so amusing and delightful to me that you still manage to express things that I too am focusing on at the moment.

"Spose I might as well build something."