I am someone who loves summer. I even love DC summers. Bring on the sun, bring on the heat. As summer closes, the days shorten and nights get longer. I have always felt my mood shift and it’s been hard to get excited about pumpkins, ghouls, tinsel or cozy sweaters - albeit fall bike rides do help.
My summers are usually accompanied by travel and one of our family jokes is that almost wherever I end up I usually say “I could stay here for a year.” What I mean by this is that I do not want summer to end and I want to hold onto the moment that I am in and to stop time. As I think about this, it is a very common thought pattern for me when either I have found some happy place or am doing some activity or task and I am really in my element. This grasping and wanting to cling onto such moments has been a constant companion. For example I clearly remember all my “big” birthdays and thinking I wish I could reset things and have remained in my 20s, 30s, 40s, for ever. One long Endless Summer.
The Four Noble Truths sit as a central tenet within Buddhism. These consist of: 1) Suffering (Dhukka), 2) Origin of Suffering (Samudāya), 3) Cessation of Suffering (Nirodha) and 4) Liberation (Magga). The origin of suffering described under the second of these Noble Truths is commonly described using adjectives such as clinging, grasping, wanting, craving etc. When reflecting on this, I have come to see how my own grasping and clinging not only takes away from these ‘happy moments’ but how it also pivots my thinking into how can I hold onto this moment. Following this mental pivot my mind quickly leads into negative feelings of what might follow and a sense of loss. Somehow despite all of my readings (and practice) thinking on impermanence, change, and nothing lasting forever it's still very hard to make this point stick.
As Thay concisely explains “Clinging to what is dear brings sorrow and fear”.
Maybe it's that it has been a long hot summer, but I have spent less time thinking about it ending than in other years and right now am enjoying observing how the peak of summer is passing and noticing the first few pine needles falling.
On this Monday, I thought we might explore this notion of grasping and clinging and share how in our own lives this has manifested itself.
For those with a few minutes a nice short video on the concept of grasping can be seen here.