The Freedom Of Impermanence

Written by Michaela MacBlake Matthews

Impermanence is the concept that nothing in the three-dimensional world lasts forever. It's a common pillar in Eastern religions, and for many, it holds the key to finding a lasting sense of peace and ease throughout the ups and downs of life.

The bad news is, nothing lasts forever… But the good news is, nothing lasts forever.

The idea of impermanence shifts the mind away from getting and gathering, pulling the awareness back into the present moment. In a culture of always striving for more, it is the meditation that now is enough, and a way to release the stresses of the future.

Darn Good Yarn handcrafted crescent moon wall hanging in light blue.
Handcrafted Moon Wall Hangings

But… How does impermanence work with us as creatives?

After all, isn’t it our primary joy to make things, and then keep and display them forever?

Tibetan Monks famously create highly intricate, breathtaking mandalas out of sand. They pour hours upon hours into each colored grain, and slowly work toward elaborate beauty, if not sheer perfection. Then, when the design is complete… They wipe it away, washing the surface clean and offering its ephemeral power to the deities, and to the world.

Tibetan Monks' impermanent and ephemeral sand art, an intricate mandala of many colors in geometric patterns.

As creatives, we often find ourselves in a state of mindfulness and meditation as we create. We slow our breath, narrow our focus, and expand our imaginations to run free, all at once. However, most if not all of us will at some point take on challenging projects, create more complex designs, and begin to display our work with pride.

While there is nothing wrong with sharing our creations joyfully, if we aren’t careful, our ego and our ownership of these projects can slowly diminish the joy they bring over time. When we focus on the end result or long term display, we inch toward permanence… And with permanence, comes pressure to perform.

We may crochet a small keychain and gift it without a second thought, but how unusual would it be to spend weeks on a large blanket, and then donate it to charity? Likewise, most sketches on loose paper are easy to discard, but how many artists are willing to paint over a finished work on canvas? The thought seems completely backwards. Wasn’t the point of all that work to keep it forever?

And when exactly did it become work, anyhow? When did the passion in the hobby become a chore, exactly? If our creation is caught focusing on outcomes, then objectives are the next house down the lane… and obligation comes to visit often.

Hand pulling many strands of yarn from a multicolored array, as if holding onto many balloons.

We are attached to the things we create, and we enjoy the sense of stability that they bring. Once we make them, they do not change. But, what if they do? What if we released control over outcomes, and simply assumed that our creations would be altered by time or even disintegrate completely?

Well, we would be left with nothing but the part of our craft that we love most: the simple, creative mojo of simply doing and being present for a short time in a world that never seems to slow. Everything will change eventually, but there is a beauty in that much larger than anything a single person could create on their own.

…After all, many of our Darn Good customers have knitted beautiful one of a kind items from yarn that used to be a young woman’s favorite dress - the one that ten years ago, she simply couldn’t live without.

Darn Good Yarn multicolored 'at the Bahamas' rainbow recycled sari silk ribbon
Sari Silk Ribbon Yarn

 

Meet the Author

Close up of the author, Michaela Matthews wearing red lipstick and a poofy red scarf with white flower arrangement in background."Mac" is on the Lifestyle Team here at Darn Good Yarn, and loves taking a ‘teach a man to fish’ approach to creative therapy. She is certified in neuro-linguistic programming, and is also the surreal artist and author behind Surrealismac.