By Barbara Falconer Newhall
The Buddhists have a name for it—clinging. Westerners call it greed, getting attached to the earthly at the expensive of things eternal and divine. Greedy clinging is not good for you, the wise folks say. It’ll make you suffer.
Some of us do it anyway. We cling. We cling to stuff. We cling to moments in time. Last summer while vacationing on one of the woodsy, marshy, rocky San Juan Islands, I found lots to get greedy about, starting with the San Juan Islands flora:
Rotting logs coated with moss. Tall stands of fireweed waving pink-to-purple blossoms over my head. Granite boulders painted orange with sunburst lichen. Slimy strands of kelp tossed ashore to dry on the beach. Eagles nesting overhead, their scat splattered across my path, fertilizing the bunchberry.
The truth is, of course, nothing lasts. Especially not four days spent in a cabin in the woods with husband and friends. There’s always a plane to catch.
You can’t sit on this fallen tree trunk indefinitely, stroking the furry moss growing out of its rot. And, no, you can’t keep walking around and around that same patch of fireweed studying the petals as their colors shift in the sunlight from pink to violet and back to pink.
But you can take photos. That’s one way to hang on to the moment.
Also, it helps to get the names of things. Name a thing and you’ve pinned it to your brain; it doesn’t slip off into oblivion quite as readily.
It’s getting dark. It’s dinner time. People will be setting the table. It’s time to let go of this moment and move on to the next. A pretty good moment is on its way, come to think of it. It’s going to involve a glass of wine and a pot of fish stew.
But the blazing moment with the pickle grass is over. No two ways about it.