drip drip drip, or the beauty of impermanence


An odd topic for me to choose on this, my twentieth anniversary of partnership with my dearest, with whom I’ve traveled many paths, cried many tears and trilled a sea’s worth of laughter.

Perhaps because I did not enter the relationship thinking about forever (come on, even my grandparents split up, what do you expect?) the relationship was able to grow on its own strength, never fueled by expectations. As a child I never dreamed of a white gown and papa “giving” me away (although I suppose that would have been nice, in a way). By sheer fate we met and within three months we married, clearly not much time to plan and plan and plan. There was no blueprint.

We spent this significant day sharing a lovely meal and then cuddled on the couch flanking our littlest one, watching a show on the ice hotel. You may have heard of this hotel in Sweden built completely out of snow and ice. I’d read of it and thought it was a gimmicky thing which I didn’t pay much attention to, plus I really don’t like being cold… but was wowed to see how artists and architects, designers and dedicated lovers of impermanence from all around the world gather each year to build it.

They create the most incredible icy sculptures and architectural configurations from a natural palette of a thousand blues and whites, each room in itself a work of art which together form a creation of ineffable beauty, by its very nature impermanent. For the five months that the hotel is open it is filled with art and theatre and with those who love and appreciate it.

The person who cultivates his legacy usually has it backfire on him, like a sandcastle it crumbles, yet the one who lives fully and creatively doesn’t much care about what is left but what is ahead. How could someone bent on forever create such perfection as the ice hotel? They simply would not even attempt it, nor would they appreciate it for what it is, only thinking of what it is not. To build it requires a leap of faith, an optimism, a love of living, of beauty, of joy.

Marriage is kind of like that. Everything in life is kind of like that: life, love, writing, childrearing, creative pursuits… You put your best into them knowing that what becomes of your efforts is never totally predictable, nor easy.

The ice hotel crew harvests from the local river thousands of crystal blue ice blocks each year, each one weighing a ton and carried with great care to the building site where they are caressed, carved, slid into place. They are all shaped the same, yet within each are a thousand variations, tiny cracks and air bubbles. It is only when they are joined that they form majestic pillars and sensual sculptures, soaring ice walls and shimmering blue lights.

And then, they melt. But the next year… The glass, you see, is not only made of ice, but it is half full.


6 thoughts on “drip drip drip, or the beauty of impermanence

      1. Then we must be blog groupies for each other.

        This blog came just when I needed a little reminder that everything is okay even though its changing.

        Plus, the writing is stunning.

      2. 🙂
        P.S. I read an incredible piece about writing today you might enjoy, Mona Simpson’s piece on Raymond Carver. Not that you have anything at all in common with him and his struggles but I found his descriptions of the process of writing and of incorporating his life’s experience in it pretty interesting.

  1. Wow. The ice hotel is amazing and I love how you tied it in with life. Impermanence is a sore subject for me .I want everything to just stay how it is. Well, as long as it’s good. If it’s not good, I do want it to change but I have a hard time making that happen. Comfort level, even when things aren’t good, has a grip. This really gave me something to think about, thank you. You always write so beautifully.

    1. Yes indeed, Michael Ann, figuring out how to give ourselves that push to wrest us from our cozy nests is the tricky part…but once we do it we wonder why we hadn’t done it earlier! I was definitely braver when I was in my 20’s, but now I think I’m stronger, so my comfort zones have changed.

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