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.