The Rule of Impermanence

It is a great blessing to live where apps connect but no one responds. Want a ride? Drive yourself. Hungry? Cook. Something broke? Fix it. Lost? Look at the sun, moon, and stars. Many folks don’t understand a life without apps while I can’t understand why anyone would give their life over to pernicious algorithms and phony social media-curated friends. One day, years from now, we may come to the realization that the promise of “there’s an app for that” was actually the beginning of our end.

Where I live the Milky Way is not a candy bar; it is celestial magic that sings like a chorus of hope against a canvas of wonder. Want some awe? Ditch the apps. Flee the land of lights that fool us into a false sense of security. Go where IRL (social media slang for “in real life”) actually is real life. Head into the wilderness to embrace the greatest mother of all: Nature. She will hold you, humble you, teach you, and if you are lucky, she will let you stay.

I live where what the “Dean of Western Writers,” Wallace Stegner called “the native home of hope.” Where, he suggested, we have the chance “to create a society to match its scenery.” Not through a mythical sense of rugged American individualism; rather, through inspired cooperation by and between ourselves and the nature that surrounds us. Where the index-finger wave above the steering wheel from the passing rusted-out pickup truck means “I see you, I know you, and I am here for you.” Where Sundays are still meant for rest and gratitude. Where Mondays are met with strength and optimism rather than dread. Where deceit will send you back to the land of apps.

Where I live, the change of seasons still matters. They mark one of the greatest lessons we can ever learn: the rule of impermanence. Whatever has the capacity to arise will subsequently also pass away—whether good, neutral, or bad. The only permanent condition is impermanence. Further, grasping and clinging serves no purpose; it only assures suffering. Where I live, we not only embrace change, we honor it. Where attempting to defeat reality is a fool’s errand. Yes, we have our pretenders too, but they don’t last long. The pandemic brought thousands to the Mountain West, but an authentic life is not for everyone. Many have already left.

If you live where the change of seasons is unremarkable, or where bright city lights obscure the magnificence of nature, I offer you a reminder with the verse, below. Trust me, there is a better world and tomorrow out there. Just put down your smartphone and let all your senses come alive again. Bathe yourself in the candescent wisdom of awareness. Your senses—moderated by your soul— will guide you better than any app ever could. Take the big leap: trust in yourself, again.

Summer’s Farewell

The sun tilts lower each day casting

golden shadows and earlier nights

Shooting stars fall quiet now

as our galaxy calls for autumn


Tan lines and calloused feet

reveal a summer well lived

Wildflowers tilt their heads

to deposit their seeds of renewal


Bears fill their bellies with berries

while trout gulp tasty hoppers

Bulking up for the big pause—

the long ’n lazy winter slumber


The deer and elk choose their mates

Nature at work on spring babies

Antlers will fall once the loving is done

and the snow piles high mid-winter


We all return to the earth after

soaring on the breezes of deliverance

We inside, seeds to soil, sap to roots

a flourish of leafy radiance waves goodbye


Soon we will stand close to the fire

before the embers of sweet piñon

To shake off the cold that clings

like an aimless lonesome drifter


Closer to our souls that remind us

of what remains after summer’s glory

To center ourselves again in the

humility of a frigid January night


We bid a melancholy adieu

until we round the bend of spring

Clutching memories of early sunrises

and praying for the grace to return anew


The best way to honor impermanence is to consider the cloud filled sky. The question is, should we be as the clouds, or the sky?


Heaven (Only) Knows

Clouds come, clouds go

White and fluffy, dark and dreary

Tall, round, flat, wispy

Painting the sky with pleas for attention


Each of curious character

Happy, sad, generous, or dangerous

Always becoming

Billowing an identity all their own


Beseeching the earth

Throwing thunder and lightning

Casting nourishing rain

At times clever, at others confused


Always passing by

They scuttle east towards obscurity

The blue sky implores

the wind to push the drama along


That big blue screen

The sky varies only a shade or two

Blue to bluer to bluest

A canvas of knowing stability


Unshaken by volatility

The sky laughs at the moody clouds

with a big wide grin

while it peeks around the vapor


The Buddha knew

Should we be as a cloud?

Or be like the blue?

A choice between the ego and soul


An easy decision, yet so hard to do


Finally, consider this time of seasonal change as an opportunity to let go of things that cause you mental and emotional disturbance. As the Thai Buddhist monk, Ajahn Chaa suggested, “If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will have complete peace.” Let go and join the flow. Then, of course, the trick is to not grab again!

Have a wonderful autumn wherever you may be. We’ve had our first dusting of snow but the leaves are only starting to change. But change they must; change they will.

Impermanence rules.