I am looking out my living room window and notice feathers dropping from above. They float down from a juniper tree located near our bird feeder. When I walk outside and look up into the branches, I see a small sharp-shinned hawk having a dark-eyed junco for breakfast. The little bird probably did not know what hit him. Here one moment, a meal the next.
This is such a potent metaphor for sentient life in all its forms. We are here one moment and gone the next. As humans, we have a lot of dramas in between. It is amazing we spend so much time stewing over trifles when this precious life is so transitory. I imagine when young Siddhartha woke up and became the Buddha, he could have been observing a little bird being munched by a hawk. Then he saw his thoughts come and go.
Thoughts have their own transitory existence. If we do not get involved with them and artificially prolong their life, they dissolve of their own accord. It is the very nature of thoughts to dissolve. It is like painting your name in water. In the moment the letter forms, it disappears. The practice of meditation is noticing this from moment to moment.
So, next time we feel the need to ruminate about something that no longer exists, maybe we hold it lightly and offer it to a passing hawk. This way it becomes food to nourish others and we become free. After all, most of what we think is horsefeathers from the beginning. They do not exist in nature.