As I was driving to Butte yesterday, my eyes wandered over the crystal-white scenery and steaming river, as the water was warmer than the air, and wondered how it was the human mind couldn’t stay within the parameters of peace and ease when there was such an abundance of beauty to take in.
Now, I live in Western Montana, and maybe that’s a sweeping statement to say “an abundance of beauty,” but, really, most of the scenery here is breathtaking regardless of what time of year, except maybe fire season. Not that Western Montana’s beauty diminishes or dissipates during fire season, it’s just that we can’t see it and are deprived of knowing it for a while.
Then this idea of suffering and attachment came to mind. I thought of when my family and I moved to Wyoming a few years ago and the fear that had accompanied me then. This fear wasn’t completely overwhelming, though. There was excitement too. And anticipation. But there was a definite fear of the unknown and of the possible what-if scenarios, and my mind, as is its natural state, tipped to the negative and was sure that everything would get worse, maybe never getting better at all.
Suffering and attachment.
I naturally become attached to people, places, things, ideas, beliefs, experiences, and feelings, regardless of where I live or what I’m doing. I become so attached that I can’t imagine life without them, then my fear wins, fettering me in my own mental prison—immobilized to do anything different or try anything new. The fear says I won’t survive without what I know, i.e., my attachments.
When I moved to Wyoming, I made a conscious effort to engage and look for places, moments, people, and experiences that emulated comfort and connection for me, not to find more attachments and create more suffering, but to practice being flexible in my life.
The ultimate truth is, all things pass. All things end at some point or morph into something else. Time moves, and so do our lives, and the people, places, things, beliefs, ideas, experiences, and feelings change, alter and evolve.
While I drove toward Butte today, I was excited to look for the “new,” the places I hadn’t noticed on my previous visits, and to know, ultimately, I’d find what I needed: a place to sit and write while drinking hot tea. There was little else that was required. Of course, yesterday’s expedition was easy-peasy, as my boys would say because I wasn’t moving there—I could leave when I wanted, if I wasn’t satisfied, and go back to what I knew.
But underneath that fact is another fact, developed from experience, I can move and change and find new places and people to fall in love with, even if I did decide to move. There is no need to be afraid of what’s possible, as long as I’m open to engaging and finding what’s needed.
My husband and I talk of moving a few years from now to another place, somewhere quieter, probably closer to a smaller town, as long as there’s a library, good coffee, and tea. There are moments when fear pricks my heart because I like our home and where we live, and what’s funny is the first thing I look at is our living room floor, which sounds silly, but it’s true. We scored a pallet of reclaimed burnt pine siding a few years ago and decided to lay it as flooring in our home. It’s beautiful. Comforting.
Again, an attachment.
This reminds me of an old house I lived in, in the University area that had rustic hardwood so aged and worn I could almost feel the lives of those who’d lived there before. I loved that flooring too. The story it told me, whether true or not, was one that’s still with me, even though I don’t live there anymore. Just as my attachments of the here and now will always be with me wherever I go. I like the idea of collecting “more” to store in the caches of my mind, to bring forth on a cool summer evening to enrich my heart with its power of “home.”
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