Acceptance And The Decay Of Life
“We are born into a realm of constant change. Everything is decaying. We are continually losing all that we come in contact with. Our tendency to get attached to impermanent experiences causes sorrow, lamentation and grief, because eventually we are separated from everything and everyone we love. Our lack of acceptance and understanding of this fact makes life unsatisfactory.” ~ Noah Levine
While photographing the glory of Autumn around Workman Creek, in Arizona's Tonto National Forest, we came across this dying butterfly along the water's edge, very weak and precariously close to being washed away down stream. With little life left, we picked it up out of the shadowed and splashing wetness and placed it on this dry and decaying Sycamore leaf nearby, for both to live out their last hours of decay in the world together. After several moments, the butterfly seemed to become more active, slowly raising and lowering its wings in the dappled and drying sunlight. With some sort of feeble hope, I secretly wished the best for this bug, for even in the moment of giving it consideration, I subconsciously became attached to it, and its inevitable fate. When my hope that it would live a little longer was its strongest, when the butterfly seemed like it might actually recover as it became more active, my hope was suddenly and quickly squashed, as a slight breeze came along and burdened the little critter enough to tip him off the leaf and back down into the flowing water below. With that, the stream carried it and its life away -- and I felt a twinge of lament. I pushed away the feeling and instead considered how my human lack of acceptance and understanding about this fact of natural decay had tainted the moment. To the butterfly and the leaf, there is no attachment to dying and the end of life, so with great humility I turned my back and continued my life -- thankful for the experience, with hope that my own path to decay would be lined with Nature's lessons about acceptance and understanding, during the Autumn of my life.