“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Heraclitus
It was the end of a day that warms you from within. The type of day where a light breeze flows from the ocean, yet the sun seems to seep deep into your bones. You face feels cool, yet your body vibrates with the heat of life around you. It was a day of feeling connected, a good day.
I was walking the sandy path towards the ocean, a path almost no-one ever takes because it takes 10 minutes to get to the beach instead of a mere 2 (we are beings of utter convenience, are we not?). As doggie and I approached the ocean we stopped for a moment in the area right before the beach. In this in-between place a vast meadow of dune grass sways in green ripples against the sky and you can hear the waves crash, just beyond, in rhythmic tune to the wind. On this particular day the sky was blanketed by a band of dark clouds, and at that very moment the sun was hidden amongst them, its brightness dimmed just enough to create the illusion of a translucent orb hovering in the sky. I clicked the camera….and it was gone.
A beautiful moment, but one passed from time, an experience never to be again. Impermanent, ephemeral, lost…
I’ve been thinking a lot about this very thing lately, the problem of impermanence. I’ve always had a rather keen sense of life’s passing, but I seem to be sensing it even more strongly now since my mother’s death. It’s natural I guess. Nothing makes you think about life more than the loss of a life, and the more personal the loss the more intensely you think about it.
Interestingly enough I’ve always had a rather good relationship with impermanence. It’s part of the reason I photograph and write. I love the idea of capturing a particular moment, of “fixing” a feeling in time. Since all things pass, the art of being able to freeze that moment is a rather alluring one. We as humans love things that last (“forever after” being, after all, the most beloved of fairytale endings), so we are strongly attracted to creations that confirm that feeling in us. It’s the most human of longings.
Yet the truth is that nothing lasts.
I’ve never doubted this, nor have I ever required it in my life. In fact I’ve always been the type of person that embraces change, leaping without thought from the past into the future, solid in my belief that I’ll always land somewhere soft (eventually). As Paul always reminds me, he’s the one that goes to the edge of the cliff in life, while I’m the one that pushes us both off. That’s just my nature.
But recently I’ve been reluctant to see the past go, almost panicked (at times) at the thought that I might have missed something (or someone) important. It’s been a odd state of mind for me, and it’s put me off my usual game. Some days I feel completely connected, whereas others I feel somewhat lost. One of my friends described it as an emotional shift, like the aftermath of an earthquake whereafter the perception of life’s shape is permanently altered (his words, not mine). I think it’s a perfect description.
But on this day, on this particular day I manage to reach a balance. When the sun hovered like a magic sphere in the sky, when the clouds burned pink and reflected like mirrors in the water, when it was just doggie and I amongst the sand and the waves. At that moment impermanence was with me and I with it, flowing effortlessly along like a leaf along a river. My camera froze the moments, but my life moved on and I was not sad for its loss. I’ll take that as progress.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Ray J says
“Impermanence” Sounds like a good name for a full time RV blog:)
Sure does 🙂 Nina
Nina, we always enjoy your thoughts and writing. I share a few of our thoughts for you. We believe love is permanent. It goes on after we are gone. Love is powerful. We also believe that we are exactly where we are supposed to be, experiencing exactly what we need to become who we will be. On loss of our loved ones; eventually in our own time and through our own grieving process we reach our new normal. It is never our old normal. It is our new place where we can continue to thrive, perhaps in different ways, just as our loved ones would want for us. We missed your writing while you were away. Very happy you are back sharing your thoughts. We learn so much from you.
Yes, love is permanent. I like that a lot and had not thought of that angle, or for whatever reason my knowledge of that (which I do have) had eluded me. Thanks. Lovely words.
hanna soule says
… and love changes as well…
Indeed, changing yet permanent. It is both. Hmmm…this has the inklings of another blog post 🙂
hanna soule says
Can’t wait for THAT…. Thank you for your responses, Nina! I’m a fan now…
hanna soule says
I follow your blog since a very short while, and I am really taken by your insights and artistic photography.
And this last piece, about impermanence, struck me especially as a metaphor for what we all experience going through life with awareness: the fleeting moments of absolute bliss and beauty and their vanishing into the the river of time flowing on.
It reminded me of the Sand Paintings in Buddhism, where the most marvelous, intricate, precise work of art is created – only to be destroyed when it’s finished.
When we can realize that it’s both: the fixed, captured moment of bliss and its impermanence – it’s not an either-or, it’s not gain/loss, it’s a parallel experience of what is constantly available and constantly in flow.
You expressed this truth. Thank you for your thoughts!
Beautifully said. Interestingly enough my very first “teaching” of impermanence was from a Buddhist monk that I met when I was around 12. He gave a talk about finding joy within the passing of life, which was rather complicated for my little mind at the time, but I guess some of it sunk in. When my mother asked me afterwards what I thought of the talk I said “duh, of course everything always changes. It would be so boring if it didn’t!”
hanna soule says
Don’t kids know – and we as adults have to re-capture that knowledge/wisdom??
So true. I think I knew it all at around 10, lost most of it by 20 and have been slowly working my way back to figure it out again since then…maybe by the time I get to 70 I’ll have it down 🙂
Another inspiring article, thank you so much for sharing! I always look forward to your next post!
Loved every word of your post!
Your musings from the heart touch a place where we are all connected.
Terri Gerasco says
Your post was very well done this evening. Beautiful in both writing and pictures. Big hug. It is hard to lose your mom.
It sometime takes a bit of a wakeup call to make us really appreciate how/why/where we are living. I keep coming across similar moments between the road and the beach.
Thank you and aroha for you from New Zealand.
Indeed, the road is a good teacher for that. It’s like a metaphor for life in many ways, which is likely why I get so philosophical on the blog sometimes LOL.
P.S. Looooove New Zealand. Have many fond memories of our trip there several years back. Would love to go back and spend extended time on the road there.
Nina, your photos are simply artwork… just beautiful
Thanks much for the lovely compliment 🙂
“A good relationship with impermanence,” is as emotionally beautiful as your accompanying photos are at expressing your point.
I love the way you express yourself.
Thanks so much. I like the way you express it, “a good relationship with impermanence”. That’s what life is all about.
I usually don’t make comments, but this was beautifully written and beautifully photographed. Tren
John Audette says
This has ceased to be a travel blog. It’s an artistic triumph. Your extraordinarily evolved level of consciousness, huge heart combined with a mastery of the tools to express them, is true art.
Well gosh. I think I’m a far way away from being “all there”, but I certainly love the beautiful compliment 🙂 Thanks very much.
Rob P says
Clearly musings from the soul, thank you for expressing them so eloquently. I can relate…
Simply… beautiful, love.
Your writing and photography are absolutely beautiful. When I moved through loss, I called it my fog. You express your feelings so well.
Aurora Saldaña says
Loved this post and specially the last picture. I wish I could express myself as well as you do. Beautiful!
Karen Seneker says
Niña, this may sound strange, but I could have written (not as eloquently as you) this post. I mean that you are truly a soul mate. I believe in connections and while my husband are just getting ready to live our adventure in an RV, i
Karen Seneker says
I feel like we are connected on the same or similar level.
My husband and I are just getting ready for our adventure living full time RV and would love to meet you guys.
I feel that if I can evolve to this level while living in one place, how far can I go while traveling. I’m with you, the profundity and beauty of living is more apparent when living so close to nature (and while living with dogs).
Continue expanding yourself with grace.
True words…nature and animals are soul-expanding in every way. I wish you the very best in your RV travels!
Bob Burton says
I can say from experience it will get better, but the pain never goes completely away. I lost the love of my life eight years ago while I was a thousand miles away. Never getting to hold her that one more time or be able to tell her how much I loved her has haunted me since that time. I’ll love her until the day I die….
Jil Mohr says
Beautifully said and shown… Thank you
Jil, could you click on my name and go to my website, and click on my email? We both have the same last name, I’m wondering if we are related.
Beautiful images you’ve captured here. Happy International Cat day.
How could I miss International Cat Day?! I remembered Lighthouse Day and IPA Day, but totally missed this one. Belated Happy Cat Day to you too.
Robert S. Mellis says
I found this particular piece more moving and perceptive than any blog I’ve read. Delightful.
Well said. Beautiful pictures. You caught sunset a the perfect time.
Rick Meade says
A beautiful combination or words and pictures. I admire your willingness and ability to be so open.
Christy Wilson says
Reading your writings is like having a cup of coffee with a great friend. Thanks!
Led me to this: http://classicalwisdom.com/
Pat hall says
I’ve followed your blog for a few years now. (Love your campsite recommendations and travel adventures). This last post especially resonated with me as I have been thing a lot about the “permanence of impermanence” in all things- it’s the one thing that IS constant.
So true…well said. Change is the one thing we can always rely on in life.
Jodee Gravel says
Through lens and pens (keyboard) one finds permanence in the most fleeting moments. I agree that if all remained the same life would be so boring, while at the same time the thought of losing certain connections is terrifying. You’ve expressed it all beautifully per usual, thank you for sharing and reminding and encouraging us to not only look and listen, but to feel.
We all fear loss…loss of loved ones, loss of comfort, loss of health etc. I’m sometimes amazed that we (as humans) are able to enjoy life despite it all. I guess that’s our challenge on this earth? It’s definitely stuff for deep thinking.
What a timely post as I’ve some family things currently happening myself. The impermanence is stirring the restless soul that I am. It’s making me do some thinking. Some questioning.
But this won’t last either, as I’ll find my answers, just as we all do. And onward we go again. Life waits for no one.
Your fabulous photos just fit the mood of the post perfectly. Thanks!
Being able to travel and living this lifestyle that we do has definitely satisfied my wanderlust & allowed me to view the passing of time with less anxiety & sadness. We get to have so many experiences that we might otherwise never have had. I feel VERY fortunate to be able to do what we do, and for as long as it lasts I will make the most of it.
Nina, you brought tears to my eyes. How beautifully you express your thoughts and feelings. I love it. Know that you and Paul are always welcome to visit our new home, small but sweet. Once our RV is sold, we hope to get a small one, and still do some traveling. Best of both worlds. SHINE ON! Else.
I rather like this reflective post with pictures that frame the mood. I don’t comment much on blogs, but this one is well written and touched me. Thanks for sharing.
This makes me think of my favorite Robert Frost poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Beautifully written, poignant, introspective, and evocative. Food for and from the soul.
Happy Belated Lighthouse Day, my Nutter Friend. 😉
Lovely quote, and happy belated Lighthouse Day to you too!
Karen from NM says
The beauty you captured in these pictures brings such joy and peace. I can feel the awe that would envelop me if I was lucky enough to be standing on that beach in that moment. Thank you for sharing.
Bill D. says
Very nice… Thank you Nina!
Such beautiful words and spectacular photos. Polly is so photogenic!
Your photos are stunning! And your comments on impermanence is a great road to explore. I love to encourage people to read Paul’s letter to the Romans (the greatest letter ever written). In it you will find good news. And when you realize that Paul dictated the letter (no whiteout for mistakes), paper was precious, and that he dictated it in common Greek (not classical Greek) so that we could understand it (not like your Philosophy 101 class), then you realize he stands out as one of the greatest thinkers of all time. The high point is Chapter 8…nothing like it in all the world. Chapter 1 to 8 is about a 15-minute read. Go for it.
Read it many years ago. Although I’m not religious in any traditional sense the letter contains many good lessons.
There’s a category link missing from your banner!
Yeah, I think I’ve got enough “philosophical musings” for an entirely separate category now. It would be interesting to go back and see how many of these kinds of posts I’ve written over the years. It’s probably more than I think.
The photos are beautiful and your writing is very insightful. Really enjoyed this post over my morning coffe today. Gave me a feeling of calm relaxation.
Cindy the pet sitter in Mesa, AZ says
These are incredible photos, Nina. Thank you so much for sharing them.
Simply stunning images and words Nina. I thought the reflections on the sand were water. So beautiful. I have a great deal of trouble with impermanence and the fleeting nature of life. Perhaps it is my situation living with someone with an incurable illness. I seem always to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. This wonderful post is food for thought for me to read again and again. Thank you.
You have an incredibly difficult situation, for sure. Finding peace and balance cannot be easy when you’re reminded so vividly (everyday) about the passing of time. You do an amazing job, both of you, and that shines through in your blog.
bruce hunt says
we are all eternal………………..
How very beautiful…the theme and the golden photos. I was lifted up!
Beautifully written Nina…very introspective.
Poignant. Great post!
Brian and Carolyn says
All I can say is WOW! Thank you for such a moving piece. I am so glad you have shared it with us. Again, thanks.
Bob in Orting says
This is my first time to comment. I think your post was very profound and I relate to it in many ways, and will probably reread a couple more times. Without getting too carried away and writing too much — I lost my wife of 48 1/2 about 14 months ago as a result of Alzheimer’s disease and I am trying to make a new life with peace of mind while keeping her in a special place in my heart and mind. Thanks for the post and for listening to me; and there is no need to express condolences, etc. Anyone is welcome to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Bob in Orting.
Thanks very much for sharing your story and thoughts Bob.
Bob in Orting says
One more thing – my wife’s (Kathy) ashes were scattered very near the North Head Lighthouse on Cape Disappointment. Don’t worry, I had permission from the park superintendent.
That’s beautiful and I couldn’t imagine a prettier place for her to be. I’ll be thinking of her as we make our way to the lighthouse tomorrow.
Mary Klinger says
Your post and pictures are always Mahvelous Dahling!
If you still plan to drive Highway 12 through Idaho, be aware of the bad fire, Lawyer S fire. Many wildfires here in Northern Idaho and eastern Washington! Travel Safe. We are volunteer museum hosts at Farragut State Park. It is a lovely state park if you are ever in the area. We have had 2 fire camps set up near us so far this summer. It has been an experience.
Mary Klinger Musings (blog)
Yeah we’ll be watching those fires. They’re the only thing (other than bad weather) that might significantly alter our plans. Really hope the situation gets better out there. It’s been such a crazy dry summer.
Benjamin Johnston says
You have a great blog. Have learned a lot from you and Paul. Will be going full time in 6 to 10 months. Wish I had the gift to use words the way you do to describe things. You paint a perfect picture with your words without the great photo’s. You are very talented.
Sorry for your loss. I have lost both my parents. Guess my dad affected me the most. Losing someone that close does change our prospective some what on life and the way we see it but in a good way. I’m also a person that has always loved change. Change helps our minds to open to new ideas and expands the beauty we see in the world.
Hope Paul and yourself continue to have a safe journey.
That last picture is stunning. I would like to have that framed. Amazing. Condolences on your loss, best wishes for your future, and safe travels to you.
Laurie Klein says
What a marvelous collage of image and thought and word! Thank you for poignant musings and outstanding photos! Your words urge me to further embrace the evanescent . . .
I love the way your “philosophical musings” take me on a journey … as if swept away in the flow of a river or the energy of a wave. It is a beautiful gift you share with us! And then there is ALL the great information you provide in your other posts. We have gleaned so many helpful hints, tidbits and added some cool waypoints to our own journey from Wheelingit. We are spending this month in Washington, just as you two are leaving. It would have been fun to meet you. Have a safe, smoke-free, journey eastward. Looking forward to the updates.
As you can see I am 6 weeks behind in my blog reading, but I wanted to comment anyway and let you know that your thoughts really struck a chord with me. I’ve been struggling lately both in my “home” life and in my “road” life, feeling slightly dissatisfied and not very connected, and I’m really not sure why. I think it’s time I sat down and tried to figure it out! Thanks for sharing your thoughts so eloquently.