One of the main contemplations in Buddhism is the law of impermanence. What impermanence really says is that nothing we experience is truly solid and nothing as we know it can or will remain as it is right now in this moment.
Change is our constant companion. Fundamentally, we know this truth and yet we are usually both shocked and dismayed when our awareness directly points it out.
In a simplistic way, we often say things like, “OH! I can’t BELIEVE that it is already almost April… where has the year gone?” Or, “Geez! Is that your daughter Fiona? Wasn’t she just born? I can’t believe that she is leaving for college in the Fall.”
We think that where we live, whom we are friendly with, what we are interested in is just going to stay the same. This is simply impossible.
Difficulties arise in our life when we fall asleep to what is changing. It is as if we have been on a long train ride and we have fallen asleep. How did we get to from point A to point B? Time. Time is happening to everyone and “time and tide wait for no man,” as Chaucer beautifully put it a long, long time ago.
If we are fortunate, when we fallen asleep, we might have something occur that wakes us up to the fact that things have changed. We are not the same person and our lives are not the same lives that we were living 5, 10, 15, 20+ years ago.
Often the pain and our fear of change wants to lull us back into a hazy stupor of sleep. If life is being kind to you, it won’t let you go backwards. You may be able to press the snooze button for a little bit longer, but life and its changes will ultimately catch up with you.
We make this fundamental truth of impermanence difficult for ourselves when we do not accept that things truly are- groundless, shifting, changing all of the time. This sense of groundlessness (being without a feeling of solid ground under your feet) is real. We make up stories in our head and live in a fantasy to deny the truth of this change that is actually occurring moment by moment.
For whatever reason, we long to hold on. By holding on, we deny ourselves the pleasure of truly being in this very moment. Sometimes this very moment is painful, sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes it is just really boring- but this very moment is all that we really have. It is precious. It is not to be wasted. It is full.
If I had a magic wand and I could make one wish- I would wish, that for a moment, all of humanity could just BE present together in a moment. That we all could experience life as it is, right now, without experiencing hope and fear without repelling or grabbing- but just BE.
I imagine that in that moment of just BEING, of feeling a collective moment of contentment, that we all might begin to appreciate our lives and our world a little bit more. We might just begin to care. In fact, our heart might just break. Because in knowing that this life is so precious, so fleeting, so fragile, we all might just begin to really live it.