Day of Rest

This is what the river looked like just two weeks ago. The water was low and filled with dark ash from last summer’s fires, green algae growing in the stillness, with a spot in the middle where the bottom was completely exposed, the trees at the edge reflecting off the quiet surface.

To see it this morning was a reminder that things change, ebb and flow, always arising and falling away, constantly shifting, beginning and ending.

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. ~Gilda Radner

I woke up this morning in the still dark, two warm dog bodies smashed against mine, and I started to worry. I was thinking about all the things I needed to do today, all the things that needed done this summer, all the work and the projects and the play I keep trying to stuff into every minute of every day and how there is just never enough time.


Later on my walk with Dexter, feeling sad about his eventual death, wishing again that it’s easy for him, still anxious about having so little time, I realize three things, Three Truths coming to me a few days early.

1. Truth: That’s really all we ever want for anyone in the end, (including ourselves), for death to be easy.

2. Truth: Dexter carries no sadness about his own death, if he even thinks of it, has any awareness of it at all.

3. Truth: In every way that I am stuck, struggling, not free, I am my biggest obstacle.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small. ~Tara Brach

As I was walking, I was noticing shadow and light, the wabi-sabiness of the world, of life. Wabi-Sabi is a concept I’m a bit obsessed with right now. Essentially it is acceptance of that which is impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete, and beyond acceptance, being able to see it clearly, to understand it as beautiful, to love it even. This is the reality of our lives if we are brave enough to open our hearts to it.

This stump is wabi-sabi. It is what remains of a tree no longer alive in the way we understand that particular animation, and yet it is surrounded by life, anchored in it, present with it. In this sense, what does death even mean? Where do we begin, where and when do we truly end? If we are made of love, come from love, live surrounded by and imbedded in love, can we ever really be separated? Aren’t we always completely and utterly free?

I’d like to think so. My wish is to believe that, to trust it, to accept it — all of it, with open eyes of full awareness and an open heart full of compassion.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

6 thoughts on “Day of Rest

  1. Ekta

    Namaste Joy,

    This breaks my heart into million pieces. It must be so difficult for you ad your family to accept the fading time with Dexter. You have described your feelings in such positive words. Dexter is in my prayers. I will pray for him he doesn’t suffer any more pain.

    Hugs and Butterflies.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Thank you, Ekta, for your kindness, for your prayers. What I know from having lost another dog, also to a fatal cancer, is that no matter when or how it happens, it will always feel too soon and too sad, but in the meantime, you love and care for them the best you can, give them the sweetest life.

  2. Guinevere

    Today I had an amazing conversation with my son that showed me that the stories I write about How Life Goes are just inaccurate dramas that occupy my mind with fear. My son is my greatest teacher. When I accept the imperfection of the moment, of my character, when I accept my inability to control outcomes and especially other people’s responses, then what happens is I am sunk like an anchor directly into the depth of my life. After this conversation today I felt (as Van Morrison sings) Really, Really, Really, Really, Real. much love /G

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Absolutely — we resist letting go of control, the surrender, because it feels too much like stepping off a cliff. I read somewhere once that it’s why some people struggle with insomnia, because to sleep is to surrender, to allow ourselves to be utterly vulnerable, to let go completely. I think love is like this, life is like this. We are constantly having to challenge ourselves to loosen our grip on things, to get over ourselves, to drop the story, to show up as we are for what is, to be really, really, really, real. xo


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