I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the beginnings and endings of things. I’m talking about the big things like the first moments of a family, the beginning of a love that lasts a lifetime, deaths, births, and marriages. The large ticket milestones that give us a window into our very own souls.
Nothing lets you see into your into soul as clearly and sharply as loss. That’s not a fluke of human design. It’s a wake-up call. The good news is you can wake up before the suffering shakes you from your walking sleep. You can be awake right now.
The Buddha said the only thing permanent is impermanence. The only thing that’s certain is change. The desire to believe that anything will last forever lulls us into a numb state of unconsciousness. (Tweetable!) Anytime we believe something will last forever we appreciate it less. We treat it with less care. We are less present. We become a little less alive. If we continue down that path of illusion we become in many ways walking dead.
The truth is everything we love will be gone someday. You can’t hold on to anything tight enough to keep it from changing. The painful acting of clawing onto something in an effort not to lose it, in and of itself prevents you from enjoying it. It may be years from now or maybe tonight, but it will be gone. Everything we hold dear will disappear. Some of those things will die slowly. Some will be gone in an instant. The need to make things permanent is a trick of the mind that puts you to sleep.
Most of all be ready. Things will change.
So, every single moment of your ordinary day is uniquely extraordinary. Nothing is really ordinary. However, in the unconscious state of the lie of permanence we begin to think everything is ordinary or even worse, meaningless. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Recently, I’ve watched close friends bury both children and parents. I’ve held the hands of people breaking wide open at the end of marriages that lasted decades. I’ve driven people to doctors appointments talking about their own upcoming funeral arrangements.
At first glance all of that looks devastating. However, when you sit with it, when you really allow change to have it’s way with you, you can live more fully in the face of the unthinkable, and the unthinkable always comes.
Be here now.
Love deeply now.
Live fully now.
Allowing the intensity of impermanence is the only way to be truly alive to what is, to fully appreciate it, and ultimately to truly love. Do not be fooled by the lie that anything can last forever. To take someone for granted is a choice to wait to love them fully, but not to love them fully right now. It’s careless. It’s costly. The price is high.
Being present to impermanence allows you to see things the way God sees them and the view is breathtaking.