My life is so good. I have a love better than I thought possible, children who are healthy and sweet, and a satisfying world of opportunity. This realization originally scared me. Like I was peaking, and afraid of the come-down. Like things were so good, and couldn’t possibly get better. Like everything could be taken from me by uncertainty and circumstance.
It made me simultaneously clingy to the way things are, and nostalgic for the way things were. I had it all, but rather than enjoy the moment, I felt anxious about its passing. And it always passed, quicker than I could keep up with.
Everything felt like it was running out, especially time. I thought about impermanence, and it depressed me because it seemed to insinuate an impending end to everything good. I feared it contradicted eternity, but through the work I’ve done, I now see it’s just as continuous. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Nothing can come from nothing. Before a tree is here, it was somewhere else. It was a seed, and before that it was part of another tree. Before the rain is here, it was a cloud. The rain was not born, it is only a transformation of the cloud.” Life is constant continuation, and this insight has taken the hurry and unease out of my nature, for I no longer view life like sand rushing through an hour glass. Now it feels more like sand on a beach.
Lack of permanence used to feel empty and sad, but now I see a fixed notion of who I am, or what life is, would be limiting. I thought impermanence was synonymous with nothingness, but now I see it actually holds the opportunity for anything and everything. The form and thought I experience now is temporary, but the constant transformation that I really am, and that life really is, is ongoing. And it doesn’t leave me behind or go on outside of me, but as me, for despite continuous change, I remain. Despite impermanence, there is a constant.
Of course this truth makes it hard to come to any absolute conclusions about myself or life, but it offers the freedom to constantly be anew, the power to create, and the wonder of continual discovery. I used to mourn change as loss, but now I see it as life itself.
I still have it all, but don’t feel as threatened; not because my life will always be the same, but because it won’t and it’s not supposed to. Life is a constant unfolding, and with an unclenched fist, I watch with greater amusement. Fear and sadness don’t lurk in the shadows of my happiness like they used to. They still pop up, but they’re not quite the monsters I thought they were. With an open palm, I’m actually able to touch this moment, and I’m glad because it’s a glorious one.
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