Life is difficult. It's also wondrous and beautiful. In her poem, “Buddha’s dogs,” Susan Brown realizes, “I’ve been chasing the same thoughts like dogs around the same park most of my life.” (Profound insight. We’re addicted to thoughts, which are real but not often true.) She ends the poem with these lines: “I wake up for the forgiveness meditation, the teacher saying, never put anyone out of your heart, and the heart opens and knows it won’t last and will have to open again and again, chasing those dogs around and around in the sun then cloud then sun.”
I love the phrase “sun then cloud then sun.” This beautifully captures impermanence—the external and internal shifts in weather. Everything changes. We walk on uncertain ground, yet we crave sun and resist clouds. In this way we attempt to control life. And in this way we suffer.
But there’s great news: when clouds come, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong. We often interpret painful conditions as “something is wrong”—with ourselves, others, or the world. It's okay; we're okay. Difficult isn’t wrong, it’s part of our ordinary, precious lives. Clouds come to everyone. And if we make space for the cloud, we make space for the sun. Our hearts open in both directions.
Each day, I have a choice: contract or widen, armor or love, resist or accept. I choose how I move through the sun then cloud then sun.