Joann and her husband, the potter David Greenbaum, live close to the Kadampa temple in up-state New York. Joann is a painter whose large body of works evoke pure happiness—rich colors and compositions. David creates Shohola Bells, large clay bells that interact with the wind and bring wisdom into forests and gardens for those who happen to be passing through.
(Watch a lovely video about the bells here.)
I finally came to the one titled, “The little things? The little moments? They aren't little." Jon Zabat-Zinn. It spoke to me, it said, "I will bring you wisdom."
Right now, my husband and I are playing with the idea of finding ourselves a little home in the woods of Maine. Somewhere quiet. There is this lure of settling down. This painting, however, reminds me of the wisdom of impermanence. I look at the house standing in bliss, but somewhat precariously over the river, and it’s like a Buddhist teaching in itself.
My teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, writes about how our mind is like a guest, and our body, the guesthouse. Soon we will move on. He also talks of our mind being like a river, a continuum. We need to start identifying with the river. We need to start seeing that everything around us is just a brief appearance on a very long journey.
I look forward to the day when this artwork will go up on a wall of our future home. I look forward to looking at it, and letting it remind me that all things will pass—to not get too attached to the wood and the nails and the roofing that will no doubt fall down, or to my body that will age and also start to fall apart. To train in understanding the river instead.
I hope that by then, I will be living my life like I’m a traveler—with a light load in my mind, ready to depart whenever need be.