March 18th, 2013

JR70297-red-tree You are the sky. Everything else—it’s just the weather. Pema Chodron

Ohio in March? The weather would be iffy. For months before last weekend’s retreat in southwest Ohio I crossed my fingers about the weather. The brink of spring in Ohio was like—what exactly? Now I know the answer. Ohio would be like Ohio. A chilly day of filtered sun, the rip-roar of thunderstorms preceding a bright and balmy afternoon, an overnight freeze and snow flurries on the way out of town.

Welcome to Ohio, everyone said, with a tinge of dismay, since it was, after all, Ohio. Nothing to write home about. Oh but it is! Here I am at home writing about it. I found everything about Ohio to be utterly wonderful and illuminating. What a marvelous place to observe the whims of the weather, and learn by it.

Weather changes. Weather moves. Weather does not linger. It is not to be understood or analyzed, because it doesn’t last. No one, I hope, believes they are irreparably shaped by the misty rain they encountered walking home from school in April of the fifth grade. Or by the heat wave that stultified the summer of 2006. Or by last night’s wind or this morning’s fog.

Everything, it turns out, is like this. Everything we see, hear, feel, and think. Every bit of life plays out in a phenomenal flicker, and then it’s gone. We are able to accept this impermanence in the weather; we are not so foolish to expect one day to be like the next. Welcome to Ohio! But we are terribly foolish in other ways. One is the importance we give to our feelings, especially our difficult and uncomfortable feelings. We think they have value—high and lasting value—giving insight into our being, our soul, our self, the who, what and why that we are. We are obsessed with our feelings; we are confused by them; we are entertained by them. On a perfectly ordinary day when nothing at all is happening to us we rummage back into old feelings—I’m afraid, I’m angry, I’m sad—as if these faded footprints formed the meaning and substance of life.

When we identify so totally with the weather we do not see where the weather comes from. We do not see our true nature, the infinite and eternal spaciousness that gives rise to a single momentous thunderclap or the billion snowflakes that melt into a square foot of March mud. We do not see that we are the sky, a vivid and unpredictable vista that is never once marred by the frolic of light and vapor across its flawless face.

This is what I saw in Ohio. I saw the sky, and I loved it. I loved everything and everyone who roamed with me across that wide open field, like birds at rest and play. They leave no trace.

Now, come see the ocean in June.



  1. […] She wrote this about our time together. […]

    Pingback by silence. ( why Zen is no joke) « chynadarling — March 19, 2013 @ 3:14 am

  2. Life, weather, short posts – they come and flash on by. But what a flash! Thanks!

    Comment by Bill Kirby — March 19, 2013 @ 3:44 am

  3. Thank you Maezen.

    Comment by Barbara — March 19, 2013 @ 3:44 am

  4. As someone born and raised in Ohio (“nothing to write home about”) and someone who is fed up with this terrible Minnesota winter that just won’t go away, I’d like to say thanks for giving me some perspective. Good stuff. I’ve always wished you would offer some wisdom about the weather–to help me out in these cold months–but I figured a Californian just wouldn’t understand. 🙂

    Comment by Amy — March 19, 2013 @ 7:28 am

  5. A heartfelt gassho to our wonderful teacher…thank you for coming to Ohio and staring at our gray skies.

    Comment by Amy — March 19, 2013 @ 7:35 am

  6. It came and it went. And here we are. It was such an honor to participate. Heart filled with gratitude.

    Comment by Sarah Stanton — March 19, 2013 @ 7:47 am

  7. Thanks to your weather report I could deal with today’s storm.
    Thank you my dear Maezen.

    Comment by Roos — March 19, 2013 @ 7:55 am

  8. I still can’t find words but now I know I don’t need them because I don’t have to explain to anyone what happened this weekend, it is inside of me where it needs to be.

    Comment by Lee — March 19, 2013 @ 7:55 am

  9. Just what I needed — I’m here in the deep cold, wondering if spring can really be around the corner. Perhaps I’m taking too many cues from the snow I see outside my window.

    Comment by K. Woll — March 19, 2013 @ 9:07 am

  10. Your words are poetry and remind me that the simplicity in everyday is beautiful, fulfilling, what I will one day miss.

    Comment by L — March 19, 2013 @ 11:26 am

  11. Such a wonderful post, just in time to welcome a new season. I follow a well known gardening blog (even tho I don’t garden)but it has changed my life and the way I look at it,simply because I get a wider and deeper view and feeling of the way people revere and respect the piece of soil they tend to and, what seasons really mean. I’m in a part of the country where one season blends into the other without much change or anticipation and I will say that for all that glorious sunshine (for which I’m not ungrateful) a lot is missed. So I give thanks for that blog and for this one, both of which grately enrich my soul.

    Comment by Daisy Marshall — March 19, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

  12. I am from Cincinnati, grew up happy there, but living here in Mpls, and haopy here, too,. But I saw you were going to be in Ohio, I got homesick and I wished I could be there, in my hometown, for your visit. I’m so glad my hometown skies could inspire such thoughtful words. You captured it so well.

    Comment by Anonymous in Mpls — March 19, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

  13. Still… I’d like to know beforehand if I need to bring an umbrella. But if I make a parallel to life as you do, see what is right infront of me on my path is more than enough future. As looking at the forcast the moment I leave…

    Comment by Debby — March 19, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

  14. What a relief! And what a release of the burden of every moment’s whiplash of thought and feeling.

    This is a print-out-and-put-up, then put in the book where I save all the poems and things I need to read again and again.

    Comment by Laura — March 20, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  15. […] http://www.karenmiller.local/weather/ […]

    Pingback by But it’s Spring | stantose — March 21, 2013 @ 2:54 am

  16. I wondered why I was getting headaches from my skull down to my toes. After a series of Missouri snowstorms, freezes, thaws, rains and heat waves all within three weeks, the weather lady, just in passing, mentioned “dreaded barometric pressure headaches.” I rushed to Google and sure enough, it’s possible that storms coming in on low-pressure systems might have an inconvenient relationship with the pressurizing capabilities of my sinuses. And at my age when it’s cold, my joints hurt, and when it’s damp they stiffen. And when it’s hot and humid, there’s that itchy rash. I’m grateful for that weather lady, because I realize that this body is not other than the weather. And wanting my moods or aches to be different than they are, that’s exactly like cursing the snow on the driveway. Just like all the things I think I want, they’ll evaporate back into the sky.

    Comment by Dawn Downey — March 21, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

  17. You do my fledgling Buddhist practice a world of good. I love this blog and am so glad I found it.
    At my age, I sometimes wonder if there will be time to get to where I want to be, but then I realize that it really doesn’t matter. Here is where I am.

    Thanks, love.

    Comment by Jackie — March 25, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

  18. I’ve had the thought that the weather outside is also inside. It seems so simple. Thank you for reminding me!

    Comment by daniel — March 26, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

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