Conscious Cat Sunday: Learning to Live With Impermanence

Ruby Buckley maple tree

Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it,
we are in harmony with reality. – Pema Chodron

The two photos in the collage above were taken five years apart. On the left is Ruby, looking out of our living room window one day last week. On the right is Buckley, enjoying the fall sunshine in the very same spot, in late 2008, about a month before she died. Looking at these two photos made me realize that accepting impermanence is a fact of life when you love cats. The beautiful fall colors in the photo remind us that nature is also all about impermanence, and the inevitability of change. Nothing lives forever.

Impermanence is a cornerstone of Buddhist teachings and practice. All that exists is impermanent, nothing lasts. When we don’t fully accept this tenet, we suffer. When we do accept it, we find peace. If we can accept that suffering, which can encompass anything from unhappiness and stress to anxiety and anguish, is one of the facts of human existence, we can then also appreciate the sweeter side of life: the genuine joy of living with an open heart. Accepting that nothing is permanent makes the present moment more precious.

But as bittersweet and painful as impermanence can be, there is also beauty in it. The sadness is a consequence of love, and grief can deepen your ability to love if you let it. By accepting the impermanence of everything in life, by allowing your heart to open to  life in all its fullness, you open yourself to everything life has to offer.

And it’s this acceptance of life’s impermanence that allows us, even after devastating loss, to open our hearts to the love of another cat, and another, and another.

Buckley opened my heart like no other cat has done. As a result, my life has become fuller and richer. I will be forever grateful to my special little cat for this gift.

11 Comments on Conscious Cat Sunday: Learning to Live With Impermanence

  1. Bernie
    November 4, 2013 at 12:32 am (7 years ago)

    I find this to be quite an article. Steeler opened my heart too. Allowing oneself to accept life’s impermanance is a long and painful journey.

  2. Maxwell, Faraday & Allie
    November 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm (7 years ago)

    Buckley gave you an inestimable gift. Such a timely piece, considering how many we have recently lost to the bridge in the online pet lovers’ community this year.

  3. Sue Brandes
    November 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm (7 years ago)

    Just beautiful Ingrid. Really touched my heart too.

  4. Ingrid
    November 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm (7 years ago)

    I’m so touched that this piece resonated with so many of you.

  5. Bill
    November 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm (7 years ago)

    Ingrid : I want you to know how much this piece touched my heart. One of life’s cruelest realities is that our beloved pets don’t live anywhere near as long as we do, yet there is something intrinsic within the human spirit that allows us, time and time again, to re-invest our love to a new pet, and your piece said it so well, so elegantly.

    Cats with an Altitude Crafts

    • Margaret
      November 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm (7 years ago)


      Love your Kitty Peeper cat patios! We are moving next month, but this will definitely be on our shopping list!

  6. Deborah Julian Cat Art
    November 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm (7 years ago)

    What a beautiful post Ingrid. Such an important thing to learn and admittedly something I still struggle with.

  7. Lisa Barrett
    November 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm (7 years ago)

    Lovely, thank you.

  8. Tami Amburn
    November 3, 2013 at 10:09 am (7 years ago)

    Beautiful….you put thoughts into words so nice.

    I needed this as my 2 oldest continue to decline.
    Thanks Ingrid… glad I met you on the net and maybe for real someday.

  9. toni / rctees
    November 3, 2013 at 10:03 am (7 years ago)

    So beautiful….and much needed. Thank you once again Ingrid, for writing EXACTLY what I needed!!

  10. Rudolph.A.Furtado
    November 3, 2013 at 1:38 am (7 years ago)

    Excellent topic on “IMPERMANANCE” and living with cats. We humans can learn a lot from observing nature and our pets.


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