Everything stays different
If you are like most people on this planet, chances are there are certain things you really want in your Life. You want your intimate relationships, if they are good, to stay that way forever. Your job, the work you do, if it is satisfying and pays well, should continue being like that until you retire. You want your children, if they are small and adorable, to remain that way, frozen in time in eternal cuteness (although you of course intellectually know that’s not going to happen). You crave security, predictability, a feeling that all this makes some kind of sense that seems to come with things – and people – never changing. In one word, you crave the reassurance that the world as you know it, as you are comfortable in it, will essentially be the same when you open your eyes tomorrow morning to begin a new day.
The other option – ever-threatening change, impermanence – is just too scary to seriously consider. It’s a perfectly human reaction to the concept of Impermanence, but this attitude has serious implications on how you live your Life.
Why nothing can stay the way it is
Life in all its forms, from microbes to humans to blue whales to thousand year old Sequoias, is and always has been subject to change. Everything is sown, it sprouts, grows, matures and eventually dies. Without this cycle our world would be a cancerous nightmare of never-ending growth, everything would stay fully grown, perfect, in bloom, forever. We understand this concept and would be surprised if it one day were different all of a sudden. But the moment we move away from the easily graspable idea of nature’s cycles and go towards the concept of impermanence when it comes to our Life situations and, especially, our relationships with other people, everything changes. What we deem perfectly normal in nature we oftentimes refuse to accept in our Lives.
But our Life, as individual as we like to think it to be, is, at the end of the day, nothing more than a bead woven into the gigantic tapestry of everything that is. A very small bead, actually. How can it possibly be that this little speck is exempt from one of the basic underlying concepts of being? What makes us think we are that special? The universe came into existence, as far as we know, about 13 billion years ago. That’s an awfully long life span already; nevertheless, this particular universe will one day die, or transform into something different. Even something this vast is subject to the laws of Impermanence.
And yet we still insist that our romantic partner shall never change and provide undying love and devotion forever, that our work will remain comfortable, not too boring, not too challenging, that we will die peacefully in our sleep of old age, that nothing disrupts the idea we have created about what our Life should be. Is it any wonder so many of us live in states of anxiety, of worry, in Lives that may seem good at the surface but carry within them an undercurrent of helplessness and fear of change? We want something that is impossible to have, and on a deep, core level we absolutely understand this truth. This discrepancy can be a very hard pill to swallow for most people.
So how do we get out of this?
Finding comfort in insecurity
This attitude of ours goes right against the very flow of Life. And since we are only a tiny part of what constitutes Life, there’s no way we will get away with it. It’s important that we understand that which so craves permanence, non-change, is nothing that’s truly us. It’s our ego Self, the part that is entirely mind-created with a lot of preconceived notions, expectations, beliefs and dogmas, the part most of us think is “Us”. This created construct yearns for a world where everything makes sense, where change is non-existent – because for the ego Self, “change” equals “change for the worse”.
We tend to forget that change in itself is neither good nor bad. It its simply the way things are. You wouldn’t try to stop the tide with your bare hands because you just accept that the forces of the sea are magnitudes greater than yours, and having ebb and flow is just the way the sea is. It doesn’t make the sea bad or good. So why would you want to try and change the way the universe has been operating for billions of years? Just to pacify the frail little ego, the kid inside of us that is afraid to dance with creation itself?
By all means, live your Life fully. Make plans. Have ambition. Achieve goals. Live with purpose. Love. Give. Receive. But accept that the variety, the grandeur and the beauty of Life comes at this cost: Impermanence. It is nothing to be afraid of. On the contrary: When you are ready for it, it will enrich your Life, it will make you appreciate its cycles and the incredible splendor that comes with it. You wouldn’t want to live in a wax museum where everything is frozen in time, would you? Become secure within a sea of insecurity. I know it’s a tall order, but embrace change and understand that you are also changing, every minute, every hour, every day. You are a part of all this too and therefore also subject to ever-ongoing impermanence.
There is nothing to fear. If you disagree, maybe you would like to learn more about being comfortable with insecurity.