This morning, three volcanic mountain peaks are adorned with white shrouds of winter snow tinged pink with the fire of alpenglow. They are clustered together like alpine siblings floating upon a cushion of low clouds hugging the foothills. I hear them whisper amongst themselves, occasionally snickering, and I imagine their conversations turn toward the silly things that humans do.

Mountains feel the smoldering lava that gave them life. Magma boils and churns below the earth’s surface—biding time before erupting to release a gathering pressure, radically changing the mountains above. Volcanoes terra-form our planet with terrifying and glorious fire. They do not care about us. It has always been this way.

The law of impermanence is deeply encoded in every peak, every chain of mountains. They give us life though collecting moisture and offering streams. They can also snuff us out it in an instance. They laugh at us because we have the arrogance to think this is not so—that we have the luxury of living a life in which radical geological change will not take place. It really is pretty funny.

The realization of impermanence seems to be experienced through complete absorption into the beauty around us while smiling because we know it will dissolve. It is the childlike joy of watching a dragon appear in the clouds and morphing into a bunny before disappearing altogether—something new and wondrous arising and nothing left to hold. Somewhere in between compassion grows.

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