The Importance of Impermanence

The Importance of Impermanence
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Constant Change

Every broken heart will mend.
Every war will fade to peace.
Every tear will bloom into a smile.
Every lovers embrace will be followed by loneliness.
Every time of peace will be ended by a thrown stone.
Every high will be followed by a low.
Every moment of laughter will diminish to silence.

Nothing in this life is permanent: ranging from the emotions you feel to the largest mountains on Earth to the furthest reaches of space – everything is part of constant change. Nothing lasts; not our most cumbersome hardships and not our greatest moments, not our pain nor our pleasure, not our childhood innocence or the delirium of our old age. The idea that nothing ever remains is called Impermanence and it’s an idea that can unlock to door to happiness and free us from worry.

The logic behind impermanence will seem trivial to some, “Of course things come and go, so what?”. To others it’ll seem wildly pessimistic, “If everything comes to an end then why bother at all?”. However, I truly believe that embracing impermanence is vital to lasting happiness and is exceptionally empowering to the everyday individual.

Fleeting Moments

Embracing the inevitable change of everything frees you from worry. Once you accept that all things will eventually end, you learn to embrace what you have in the here and now, you don’t squander a second of what’s in front of you – you soak up all of the experience you can and let the memory carry you to the next great thing that is ahead of you – rinse and repeat.

Embracing impermanence allows us to gain a sense of confidence when we come face to face with hardships – be it something as insignificant as wrestling your two year old toddler into a car seat or something as huge as a life changing event. It may be hard to acknowledge the hardship in the heat of the moment but through acknowledging and accepting we are able to realize that no hardship lasts forever. To quote the Dalai Lama, “If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.”

Instead of dreading of dreading the goodbyes that will eventually come, take a moment to fully experience laughter, smiles, the air, the sounds, everything that makes that fleeting moment in time one to remember.

Instead of praying that your newborn would just fall asleep, take a moment to look down at them and feel the love that courses through your veins; feel them tugging at your shirt and hearing them coo as you rock them. You’ll have plenty of time to sleep, but that moment of them sitting in your arms will pass in the blink of an eye.

Instead of being consumed by the thought of being finished with a project or exercise routine or really anything that requires your full attention, take a moment to appreciate the process that you’re going through and acknowledge the steps you’re taking to better yourself – every step forward, and every step backwards, is a chance to learn and grow.

Everything in this life will occur in waves; they will push and they will pull.

Shallow Waters

Impermanence is vital to the realm of Buddhism. The Buddha believed that a great deal of human suffering came from the attachment to things that are forever fleeting; that we invest our happiness all in trivial pursuits. We tell ourselves, “Damn, If I had a more exciting job that paid better I could afford that new car. Maybe then I would finally get noticed by Stacey in accounting and she’d go out with me. Then I’ll be happy.”

But that exciting new job will eventually become mundane and undesirable. The raise will disappear under the cloud of higher bills. The car will break down. Stacey will lose the shimmer of desire after the first date. To think these things will bring lasting happiness is a hopeless pursuit!

I know, the pessimistic voice is there in your head, “So none of these things will make me happy, you say? I’m suppose to just give up on my goals and retreat to the woods and be a hermit?

NO! That’s not what I’m saying! Getting a new job is great! More money, more opportunities! The feeling of getting behind the wheel of a new car is exhilarating! Stacey from accounting sounds like a gem! What I AM saying is that you can’t throw your anchor in shallow waters of happiness and hope they bring a constant supply of happiness for an extended period of time – you must seek out the deeper depths of happiness! Don’t make things that will quickly fade your primary goal in life, let them be things that you enjoy while they are there and let go when it’s time to let go.

One day I will turn grey.
One day my hands won’t write and my mind will be dull.
One day my loved ones will leave me.
I do not fear when these days come for in this moment I am young, my hands can write, my mind is sharp, and my loved ones are near.