Saturday, May 15, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about impermanence. Part of it is from reading Pema Chodron. And part of it is being human. Chodron says to recognize it in everything, to acknowledge it when we see it, get used to it, make friends with it. I'm paraphrasing, but you can read it here.

So I finish eating that really nummy meal, one last bite -- impermanence. A jerkface runs into my car and takes the side mirror off (that was last week) -- impermanence. I say goodbye to a child I taught with no clue whether I'll see her again -- impermanence. I meet someone new -- impermanence. I'm rocking my adoptive niece to sleep and noticing how long she's grown -- impermanence. My dog, my best friend Parker, is going to die one day. I think about that one a lot.

I sobbed when I first met her thinking about that. I was depressed at the time. I don't think it was wrong to feel the sadness of anticipating her loss just when I'd gained her, but it was overwhelming sadness, sadness that kept me from being in the moment and appreciating the feel of her tiny, tiny body in my lap. There are always two sides, and I could only see the sad side then.

And I think about how much of my life I spent terrified of change. Well, things change, and I'm trying to let them.

I didn't know Guy Adkins personally, but he was in a couple of productions that affected me greatly, including one of my top ten theater experiences of all time, The Time of Your Life at Steppenwolf.

That's him dancing.

That play changed my life. I sat next to my best friend, my creative partner I'd been missing, who was only in town for a night or two, and Jeff Perry looked me in the eye and said something that pierced me to my core, and something broke apart in me, and things came back together a little bit sweeter, bittersweet maybe, like Pema says, but better.

Recently I had that dream of cancer, in which I had all the terrible conversations, said goodbye over and over. A good friend of mine had a really similar dream just a couple of weeks ago. Maybe we're the right age for dreaming of cancer, but all that scary stuff really happened to Guy. I spent a lot of time yesterday reading his blog Notes from a Candyman about his time with cancer. It's gut-wrenching, but also hopeful and so, so generous. I'm sending love to all my friends who knew him well and to his loved ones who must be missing him but so proud of him too.

"So I forgot my troubles and just got happy. Try it. I mean really try ... I still think this life we have is a gift and we have to try to be happy. I don't know if it's a right or a privilege, an accident or a figment of our imaginations. It's something everyone wants so much. It's everything, Happiness. And I really have it. At least it seems like I do. If I'm deluded, don't tell me." -- Guy Adkins

“In the time of your life, live - so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and mystery of it.” -- William Saroyan

"Our fundamental situation is joyful." -- Pema Chodron


laura said...

i love your blog.
you dig deep.

boh tong said...

Interesting blog.

~Onreeone~ said...

It just so happend while flipping thru blogs you came up. I like your writing style and can't wait to read more.

Rachel Wilson said...

Thanks all!

Uma Krishnaswami said...

Rachel that's beautiful. I lost my father at the start of this year and last month a dear friend died of cancer. It seems too much all in a few months but life is just that way. Impermanence really is "the essence of everything."

Anonymous said...

I was eating tofu yakisoba in an empty restaurant after work, reading a week old newspaper, when I unintentionally flipped to the obituaries. That was something that fascinated me--the impermanence of our own lives (even though I hope dearly to become a cyborg in the future with greatly extended life).

It's difficult to look at the smiling face of a personable old man, visualizing what he may have looked like in his youth, and then think, "He is no more." Like, forever. And I don't think we can ever fully realize the value of our lives in comparison to the looming eternity of non-existence that came before us and also follows us. Le sigh.