Friday was Max's last day at Second Grade. He won't be attending the same school in the fall. He was sad to leave his teacher and his friends.
The children read poetry.
In the afternoon, it was time for the last goodbye.
Fortunately, there was still time for a soda with two pretty classmates, to unwind.
Long ago when I completed my second year of art school, all my classmates scattered for the summer. One girl left school permanently, to study in Paris. She wasn't a close friend of mine, but I still felt a paralyzing sadness, realizing I'd never see her again. It was a reminder that I couldn't control life. People and things would keep popping in and out of my life, regardless of my wishes.
I always wanted security and permanence. I think everyone does, but we don't understand life when we do that. We don't want the whole situation to be permanent. When something good happens to us we want that part only to be permanent. We miss a critical point: The good part is good because it is not permanent.
Good things come because we are in position to contact them, and open to them. It's like an eclipse. It happens because you are in motion, and another object is in motion. Their motions bring them into alignment, temporarily. I experienced this excitement many times; when I moved to a new place or fell in love with a new girl, and especially when I came to San Francisco. Each time, I opened myself to the new experience and let go of my past. That's what made it rewarding.
It's only natural to hold on tight to those experiences, and wish they could never end, to just stay and live in those moments. But the motion that made the moments possible will inevitably move us further on. The only way to enjoy life is to open up to our new position, and give love to it as we let go of the old one.
Ah, it’s an awful thing . . . and being young doesn’t help any . . . when you notice for the first time . . . the way you lose people as you go along . . . buddies you’ll never see again . . . never again . . . when you notice that they’ve disappeared like dreams . . . that it’s all over . . . finished . . . that you too will get lost someday . . . a long way off but inevitably . . . in the awful torrent of things and people . . . of the days and shapes . . . that pass . . . that never stop . . . All these pests . . . all these bystanders and extras strolling under the arcades, with their pince-nez, their umbrellas, and their little mutts on the leash . . . you’ll never see them again . . . Already they’re passing . . . they’re in a dream with the others . . . they’re in cahoots . . . soon they’ll be gone . . . It’s really sad . . . it’s rotten . . . all these harmless people parading along the shop fronts . . . A wild desire took hold of me . . . I was trembling with panic . . . I wanted to jump out on them . . . to plant myself in front of them . . . and make them stop where they were . . . Grab them by their coats . . . a dumb idea . . . and make them stop . . . and not move anymore . . . stay where they were, once and for all . . . and not see them going away anymore. —Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Death on the Installment Plan
Great post! Thank you for your insightful reflections on the beauty and better sweet joy of impermanence. Can't wait to see both you and Max more this summer. -Ellen Williams
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