Sunday, August 8, 2010

a little sweet sadness

The unspoiled colors of a late summer night.
The wind howling through the lofty pines --
The feel of autumn approaching,
The swaying bamboos resonating,
And shedding tears of dew at dawn;
Only those who exert themselves fully
Will attain the Way,
But even if you abandon all for the ancient path of meditation,
You can never forget the meaning of sadness.
~Dogen Zenji

Aren't those beautiful words?

It is cooler here in the North today. A few trees are already rushing to show a hint of fall colour. There is a different feel and scent to the air.

And, as with the passing of every season, I begin to feel a whisper of sadness that sits on my shoulder. Existential sadness. A lifetime's harvest of seeing, feeling, knowing, releasing. It does not encumber or disable, but it does quietly hover, ever offering itself up to me, IF I choose to partake. I have learned not to begrudge its presence as it is part and parcel of a temporal life, of a life of change and fragile connections.

That is why Dogen Zenji's words appeal today, as he recognizes that we all carry a little existential packet of sadness, even in our happiest of times, even if we think we have found The Way.

Today I will use my sadness as a reminder to treasure what is. A little shiver of sadness as a signal to appreciate summer as she begins to prepare her exit.


  1. That sweet sadness is present even in the best of moments, isn't it. And here it is very well captured and reflected in your words and in Zenji's quote.

  2. Bonnie- I so know this sweet sadness- summer here never really brought the heat and already weather is turning- loads of the usual rain and cloud cover. Been chilly all summer, really. Weather - so unpredictable these days...

  3. Too soon, Bonnie, too soon.
    Summer has hardly spoilt us here in the damp and drizzly UK.

    I love those words, the poet's and yours. A little touch of melancholy is often my gift to myself, like you, I welcome it and the quietness it brings with it. I am sure you understand.

  4. smiles. i like the way you are using your sadness...i have felt its heavy hand for about a week now...trying to shake it...looking forward to fall and cooler days...

  5. Hi Bonnie!! I think you offered up just what I have been feeling. Usually I am in a rush to meet thrills and feeds me! But for some reason this year..I am for once in a very long time savoring the summer!
    I have spent many a season in saddness..and have learned to value it's not run from it..but accept it as something that creates balance in my life!!
    Wonderful post hon!
    Hugs to you, Sarah

  6. Fall is so far away from us as to be unimaginable. August is out hottest month and it is so dry now but humid all the same. doesn't make sense does it. It's the Dog Days here. Maybe late September will give us a hint.

    Oh and so happy to see you back.

  7. awesome reflections,
    fall is in the air,
    be easy,
    Happy Sunday!

  8. Bonnie, I was feeling the same on my early morning walk in the woods...having found so many examples of (change) there, but also a few discoveries of a (sentimental sameness), I was left feeling that sweet sadness too. I decided in the woods, my next post was to be titled 'Change and Same' or 'Then and Now'.

  9. I forgot to mention the Beautiful photo!!!

  10. bonnie i know there's more sun, more heat to come but the last few days have had something of an edge of the autumn in them. i have seen trees locally with tiny flares of roange and red in them, particularly the sumac. the autumn is my favourite time of year but this summer has been a beauty for me so i'm loath to let it go just yet! steven

  11. I love that photo - or is it a painting? I always feel a little sadness when the seasons change - even though I LOVE the fall - it's just that time is going by so QUICKLY!

  12. 'A little shiver of sweet.' Meaningful and uplifting post.

  13. I do understand what you're saying. I feel it, too.

  14. Ack! Do not speak of summer's last hoorah! I won't have it I tell you!!!! Summer please remain. I have enjoyed your heat and blue skies. Your flowers have been such treasures for all my senses! Stay...stay!! Do not let winters' cold grasp chase you away!!!!

  15. Well, it's been so unbearably hot here this summer that I am looking forward to her exit. I love the transition times... fall and spring lift my spirit considerably. I can live without extremes in heat OR cold. :c)

  16. This posting really resonated with me, Bonnie. I just returned last night from the fiftieth reunion of my high school graduating class -- some of whom are either deceased or quite ill. Upon my return, I encountered some other things that weighed heavily upon my heart last evening -- all of which is to say that there is so much truth in what you and Zenji write. No matter what degree of peace we find in life, there is always a residue of existential sadness that must be encountered and experienced. I wonder: Could we ever experience true happiness, true joy, if we did not carry this existential sadness with each day of our soul's journey? Thanks for the though-provoking posting.

  17. Somehow your post made me sad, but as you said beautifully it is a sweet one..


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