P N C O

Mostly photography, with the occasional philosophical contemplation

6: Winter, Spring and everything in between

2 Comments

In the Netherlands the climate is moderate. The winters are not too harsh and the summers are not too hot. Because of this, i’m not always aware of the changing of the season. There is just a constant flow of the seasons coming and passing. Right now it’s summer and in a few months autumn will be here again. The cyclic nature of the seasons has always been there, but the way i see this cycle has changed a lot since i was young. When i was young, there was the expectation of hot summers at the beach and snow at Christmastime. It was all about enjoying the possibilities each season held.

Now i observe the seasons from a different perspective. Spring means i can start going out again with the camera more easily, do some work in the garden or just sit and relax outside. Winter triggers me to go inside. Both on an external and internal level. Like the bears who go into hibernation, i tend to become a little more seclusive and contemplative during wintertime. And springtime brings the much needed sunshine. After all the long dark nights, it takes some time to recharge the batteries and start enjoying the arrival of spring.

The most important thing i’ve learned to observe is that everything is impermanent. Although things may seem solid and build to last hundreds or thousands of years, in the end everything which is made will eventually break down again. Glasses and cups fall to the ground and break, flowers grow until they fade away, and grandparents are there until they pass away.
At first i was quite intimidated by impermanence. With my youthful enthusiasm i thought that life would last forever and that i would always be healthy and sporty no matter what. But when a good friend and also former roommate suddenly passed away at the age of 28, i realized after going through a lot of denial, pain and frustration, that i am going to die one day too.

And that’s why it has become important for me to recognize and acknowledge impermanence. Not to be nihilistic, but more in a sense that i become more sensitive to the changing which is happening all the time. Every moment is impermanent. Everything changes, although we might not recognize this. Some things we can easily learn to deal with, as they are mostly on a mental level. Take for instance cold and hot. We suffer a lot because of these two. In the office, a colleague might think it’s too hot and open the window. Then another colleague will start complaining that it’s cold. So why would i bother with this? If it’s warm, then it’s ok. If it’s cold, that’s also ok. I can dress accordingly. Accepting the inevitable change of the weather makes life so much easier. It helped me to actually enjoy the rain instead of feeling sorry for myself for becoming wet. By seeing the larger picture, i can now see the benefit the rain brings to farmers and the land.

To come back to the image. This young fern was at the start of its life and now a few months later i’m sure it has grown a lot bigger. And at the end of the year all of it will be gone again, after the seeds have been spread onto the earth. In the end it doesn’t really matter that the fern grows or dies. What matters is its relationship with everything else. Without the earth, without the rain, without the shade of the trees, without the sunshine, there would be no ground for the fern to grow. And the same goes for us. We tend to cling so much to what we want and who we are, but we tend to forget that we can only be in relationship to everything. Not to mention that there is just one me and 7 billion other humans. Pretty presumptuous to say to myself that i’m the most important one huh?

For me the journey is now about honoring the relationship, the interdependence of things. It’s about the act, the doing. Not the subject or object, but the verb. Cause everything changes, everything flows. We are all part of this flow, we can not be separated from this flow even if we think we can. And even if we separate ourselves by living our illusory dreams and thoughts in our minds, we’re still one with the flow. So i’ve decided that i will just let go. As said in the movie Waking Life: “Go with the flow. The sea refuses no river”

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2 thoughts on “6: Winter, Spring and everything in between

  1. Wonderful words, Pieter. The only true sentence in this world is: everything will decay. I just read a book from my favorite illustrator who held the following speech, which fits with your words:
    Well, all of us have an inherent demand for safety , we have also a natural demand for risk and aggression as well as destruction , BUT the dominant need is an animal-like longing for safety. Different from the squirrel, we believe , maybe from the 25th year on , that we are mortal (some never get it). And just in this so certain likelihood we have invented eternity for us. Friendship, love, marriage have to be for forever. The words written on parchment have to be for forever. The pyramids and the Sistene Chapel, they are supposed to be for forever. Forever – that’s the credo of mankind. And whilst we are living, we experience our own decay and we undergo and recognize that nothing is certain and forever – except one thing: DEATH. On this leisurely track of dying, which we call life , on this track only one thing is certain: the end of dying – the death of the ego, of mankind, of earth and the world. … (Horst Janssen)
    It’s good that somebody writes about such things, Pieter. Have a nice day, regards Mitza

    • wow! Thank you for sharing Mitza! That is a remarkable quote and very inspiring. Resonates a lot with how i see it. And good to hear you’re aware of the impermanence of life and that death is always closing in on us. All the more reason to let go of quarrels and be open to the present

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