impermanence is a condition of life

The day after can have a pale sort of color to the mood.  I am talking about the day after a looked forward to event.  The event can be an anticipated holiday party, or even the day after a funeral, or a beach party…What I am getting at is the passing of time when that passing of time is linguistically associated with an event.  I am curious about readers opinion on this as I can imagine it could differ widely.

Where do our moods come from?  What constitutes a mood?  As I think about moods I am instantly reminded that the event associated with the mood may have absolutely nothing to do with the mood itself.  During a fun day at a carnival, I can remember thinking that the carnival was leaving town on the next day.  I might have been all of twelve years old and I was swinging in one of the bucket chairs that take you around the ferris wheel.  The wheel stopped when we were on the very top and I could see over the trees and over the building in our small town.  I look over to the church steeple and though I could not see our house, I knew I was looking right in the direction and I also knew that the carnival was leaving town tomorrow.

As a twelve year old it is not much easier than as a sixty four year old to put two distinctively different feelings together. One of the feelings was so clear–an exhilaration of being high in the air, feeling the warm breeze of a summer night with the carnival in town, the sound of the calliope  & the hobby horses, and the game tents where you never won anything worth more than a Chinese penny; yet, the mood was cut into because tomorrow the carnival would be gone and the thrill that was the carnival lights and the summer night would return to a lazy summer day.  Maybe reading, going to the little library that shared quarters with the volunteer fire-barn and picking out a Bobbsey Twin mystery and sitting under a tree–so little a fascination compared to the carnival.

The day after my grandmother’s funeral when I was fourteen years old is another example of a two-mood, mood.  The prior day had been so sad.  I remember that I cried so much that I finally could not cry anymore.  The deep cut, the piercing wound was still fresh and hurt, but I had become numb to the emotional intensity.  The sensation had not gone away, but the body’s ability to react was simply–shut down.  My friends came by as usual.  It was as if they were saying, “Al’s back we can go play.”  But my mood was not back.  I was back, but who I was inside was not back.  I did not want the funeral to be over because tomorrow I would return to everyday life, but now without my grandmother in town.  Somewhat of a mystery that the carnival leaving town and my grandmother’s death would elicit a similar hole in my heart.  In both cases I would have to live with a memory because the actual “cause” of my good mood was gone.

As much as I like to say that events themselves are not the cause of contentment, it is pretty hard to remove myself so far from the event so as to contain a feeling of peace in the midst of sorrow or more specifically–loss.

Loss for me always was the cause of a a shift to a new mood.  I had no internal way of maintaining who I was in spirit when who my spirit was lost a friend—be it a carnival in 1950 something, or a beloved dog in 2000 something.  The spirit of who we are likes to be connected and it likes to be connected with other vitalities and other vibrations that we love to love.

As far removed or a near as it might appear to some what prompted this morning’s blog is a major decision to cut down a few very large and very old oak trees on my property at the lake.  I am here witnessing their demise and although it seems like a good idea for many good reasons–i can not stand that these friends of my–these mighty oaks are being cut down and I made the decision to “pull the switch.”  I feel a bit like and executioner that is having doubt over the guilt of the man being executed.  “What if this was not necessary, what if this decision only served a whim and when I wake up tomorrow morning will I be in a “mood” because I convinced myself to cut my relationships with these trees and took their lives while doing it.

I know that it will seem to some that this is over the top, way too sensitive for my taste, many will say.  But what of inter-being?  What do I do with the Mindfulness that it is my vow to not destroy?  These trees are my friends and I feel comforted by their shade and I love to share the sunlight with them and I love to watch them sprout new buds each spring and slowly turn to russets and brown in late autumn.

I tried to stop the action yesterday, but I was not convinced then of the solidarity that i felt with these beings of nature. This morning it feels sad and I do not want to come out to play, and the mood is melancholy and even somewhat guilty.  Yesterday they knew nothing of the massive up-rooting they would undergo today.

I am sorry, friends–forgive me for cutting your life short and for reminding me that even trees return to dust & that impermanence is a condition of life.

The object of this project was to let light in the yard, but it is shining as much light on an internal landscape as it is on the yard.  The outcome is still to be seen.  The tree cutting is a work in progress.  The internal landscape is as well.

Now that half the day had gone by and so of the light is coming through, i might begin to feel better about this whole process.  I will continue to show a few more pictures of this project as the actual work of the men in the yard is really very fascinating to watch.  One kid named, squirrel must have gotten his name from jumping from one tree to the other while some sixty feet in the air.  I am reminded of a circus school performance that I saw recently.  This tree/man was amazing.  He seemed as comfortable swinging a chain saw 60 feet up as most people might be weeding a garden.

I am still struggling with the mission of this project.  There is no question that it is going well and as I see more light come through the trees and settle in on the garden, I am relieved that the purpose is not in question.  When I watch men at men’s work I am always gratified.  It takes so little for me to translate what I do in the internal world of psychoanalysis and apply it to just about any external event.  These men are working hard, like I work hard, but they use their hands more than I do.  Very little else id different.  The have a plan and they set out to understand the objective and they work through resistances to accomplishing the job.  One man was a great improvisionalyst.  He was working to get a rope up over a branch so that he could use the rope as a pulley.  There were branches in the way that were not to be cut, so he roped the the tree branches and pulled them back, much like a lady might tie her long hair back to avoid from getting it in the soil as she bent down to garden..

With his body suspended from the tree, he had the chain saw in his left hand and began to cut away at the limb that he was suspended from.  He held on the branch with his right hand and guided the branch with the slow cut of the saw.  The limb moved in slow motion and fell in the drive way exactly where he planned it to fall.  It was watching an acrobatic art form.

This is story is done.  I mean the rest is all about clean up and maybe showing you how the place looks with a much greater degree of sun light filtering through.  Another perk of the day was the surprise of seeing a whole new part of the lake that was not visible through the thicket of trees and leaves.  All in all there is a great deal to feel grateful for.

However, before I close.  I had a memory in the course of the day that took me back to my childhood and I am realizing that it may be the source of more of this mini-drama that I thought.  When I was a young boy, I was fascinated by something that happened one summer day.  Mr. Trottier who was our back yard neighbor had been trimming a weeping willow tree in his yard and several of us kids were “helping” him.  Near the end of the day he told us to pick a branch and to bring it back home, plant it in the ground and water it–that it would grow into a tree in just a few years. Just a few years is a very long time to a boy, but i did it,  and low and behold in just a few years this little twig was well on its way to becoming a tree.  After maybe eight years or so, Dad discovered that weeping willows were notorious for aiming their roots toward any water they could find.  It our case it was the cesspool that drew this trees attention and the walls of this already precarious hole int he ground had to be protected.

The tree had to come down.  And I was so mad that he cut down my tree.  You see, this was no ordinary weeping tree. It was my weeping tree and I had grown attached to its swaying in the breeze beauty and its icon as a symbol of a beautiful sadness.  I recall writing a poem to the tree and later when my Dad died, as I ran through the list in my head of what i wanted to say to him, I remembered saying that it was O.K.  I finally understood why the tree had to come down and he finally understood why it had meant so much to me.  It was a moment of understanding that I needed again today.

It was a wonderful memory that finally brought this tree cutting day into perspective.  Corny, but one never know from where light will be shed.

A.L. Dussault

Charlestown, R.I.


getting to now

Being on a path to spiritual healing is a path that has its own unexpected detours.  It is as if one had planned a journey to a very wonderful destination.  And, having planned this wonderful journey to this lovely land you anticipate that because the land to which you are going is so beautiful, how can the journey be anything but great.

That is the flaw in the logic, even the logic of the heart gets this one.  Just because we are on our way to heaven or nirvana does not mean that the road to get there will be as wonderful as the destination..

As I wander through my own landscape and I visit the places along the way that I must visit, I recognize that the journey has nothing in common with the destination…my children cause me heartburn, my work demands much more from me than it gives back, my expectations of life and of loved ones, fall under the pressure that I put of them to be what I need and want them to be.  Of course, regardless, they are who they are, and they are what they are; and my demands/expectations do nothing but frustrate my vision and dreams.

So from day to day, I do what I can to walk myself back into the present moment from where my ego has suggested I go to look for things that I do not really need.  The distance between to where I have wandered back to the here & now is forever changing.  But, I am recognizing that the time it take for me to realize that I am not in a good space is much shorter than it ever was.

al dussault

charlestown, rhode island