Thursday, October 11, 2012

Impermanence: We Are Part Of The Natural Scheme Of Things

Victoria Park. Kitchener, Ontario.  October 8, 2012

"Impermanence is the goodness of reality. Just as the four seasons are in continual flux, winter changing to spring to summer to autumn; just as day becomes night, light becoming dark becoming light again - in the same way, everything is constantly evolving. Impermanence is the essence of everything. It is babies becoming children, then teenagers, then adults, then old people, and somewhere along the way dropping dead. Impermanence is meeting and parting. It's falling in love and falling out of love. Impermanence is bittersweet, like buying a new shirt and yeas later finding it as a part of a patchwork quilt.
People have no respect for impermanence. We take no delight in it; in fact, we despair of it. We regard it as pain. We try to resist it by making things that will last - forever, we say - things that we don't have to wash, things that we don't have to iron. Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things."
~ Pema Chödrön,  When Things Fall Apart
My first reaction to this is that even though I know what Pema is saying here is true, I hate it. I just wish everything was perfect (according to me), and that it would stay that way. I wish that I would be in the perfect job with a well-functioning car and 2. 5 kids (maybe), in an eco-friendly home in a small village on the outskirts of a city. And above all, I wish that I was in a relationship with someone who was predictable enough that I didn't have to worry about "falling out of love" and that the relationship just came easy.

But, damn it, that's not the way that life works, and Chödrön knows it. Life is more like living in San Francisco where you are bound to feel tremors every once in awhile (if not a full-fledged earthquake) than it is living here in Southern Ontario where the ground is pretty firm.  Another analogy is the sea. Living life is more like drifting in the middle of the sea with all it's waves cascading up and down than it is about the children nonchalantly building sandcastles on the sand.

I still hate it. I still fight against it. But damn it it's true. And I would do well to learn how to accept it.  It doesn't mean I must now live a miserable life; it just means that I live in the rhythm of life rather than fighting against it.

Can we count on anything to last with a worldview such as this? Two truths come to mind:
1) I am loved.
2) I always have the choice to love others and to love life.
Beyond that, I'll try to learn to lay back and be carried by the waves.

Mark Andrew Alward