Embracing ephemera

The other day I was writing in my journal at a local wine tasting room and I overheard this British couple talking about their plans around town and Carmel. We eventually struck up a conversation and they asked me for some recommendations for local wineries, restaurants, and things to do.

Fast-forward to the next day when I was cleaning the house and wondering if the charming couple ever went to the places I had suggested. And if they had, what they had thought? And then I let my mind wander, as it does, and I thought how cool is it that I will never know? How beautiful that we shared a moment over a glass of wine and an unwritten journal page so I could share some of my restaurant preferences in my hometown. Maybe they lost the paper they had jotted my recommendations down on and never made it to those places? Maybe they went to them all and had bad experiences? Or perhaps, they tried some and discovered others on their own.

And then I got to thinking about how we oughtn’t control things or expect things. Buddhism teaches that suffering comes from the attachment to expectations. And also to embrace and live in the present. My recommendation-giving was yesterday…and I gave them those recommendations without expectations that they would like or dislike them or report back to me. Now it is with me as a nice memory as I dust my bookshelf.

I let my mind wander some more and I began looking up words and found that the word ephemeral–which means lasting for a very short time–comes from the Greek ephēmeros which means “lasting only one day.” I can think of many things in my life that lasted only one day or even less and that they were beautiful just in their short lifespan. A meal with a friend or a lover. A swim in a creek. A deep conversation. A movie. Blackberry picking in the summer.

A daylily, so called because it is only in bloom for about a day
Photo by Bradley Howington on Unsplash

If only I can remind myself to let events in life be ephemeral. To not attach expectation to them and maybe I can find myself a little more liberated. To embrace a moment, a conversation, a relationship for its lifespan…whatever that may be. And then to let it go.

6 comments on “Embracing ephemera

  1. Oh Sally, you have written this so beautifully! With utmost sensitivity, you have given a fleeting chance encounter meaningful philosophical depth! You remind me of how I learned this word. It was in what now has become my distant past, reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. He said, “Fame and the famous are both ephemeral”.
    Bravo Sally!

    1. Amer! I am so sorry I just saw this comment. I loved reading your comment. I actually haven’t read Meditations in its entirety but you have inspired me to now! I hope you are well, dear Amer.

      1. Thank you, Sally! Keep on writing and anchoring your ephemeral thoughts in words! Thus, giving them permanence! Who knows, who might read them and when! Stay well my friend!

  2. Dearest Sally,
    Such wise and beautiful words that we often forget but that should be the core of our existence! Thank you for this!!!!!!
    Love, hugs and Blessings,

    1. Thank you, Virginia! I agree…maybe I’ll write this on a post-it note and stick it somewhere where I can read it often 🙂

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