Toward Impermenance

Many, if not most things as we know them fail to maintain their present form. In some ways, this is a gift: relationships blossom, children grow older, work becomes more meaningful, and we come to know ourselves in deeper ways. But change, for better or worse, can bring about a sense of nostalgia for what was and resistance to what is.

Perhaps that is why we cling so tightly to those aspects of ourselves, our partners, our environments, which first brought us unbridled joy. We did not have to mold them to fit our needs and desires; we chose them because they already did.

The difficulty lies in neglecting to account for the basic truth that our needs and desires change, as do the traits of the experiences and individuals to which we become so attached. Life moves with unmistakable fluidity, but so often we live out our days as if they were stagnant.

When our children outgrow their clothes and their beds, we pine for the yesterdays when they seemed so small.

When the actions of a loved one do not readily align with the fixed image we manufactured long ago, we react with confusion and doubt. When our children outgrow their clothes and their beds, we pine for the yesterdays when they seemed so small. When we are unable to live up to our previously set expectations for ourselves, we respond with self-condemnation, dismissing all the ways we have since flourished. When there is an upset in our routine, we dwell on our hours as we spent them before. When our surroundings shift, we compare them the old, without seeing the potential for the new.

The changing landscape of our experience is unavoidable, but our refusal of it is not. In fact, the more we struggle against this inevitability, the more self-pain we are likely to inflict. Many of the transitions we face in life are positive, marked by celebration and cherished rituals. Others, we view as negative, are frequently met with avoidance and apprehension.

Our tight grasp on the present does not make it any more or less likely to take on new forms, just as welcoming fall does not deter the onset of winter. It is simply a potent reminder to find beauty, joy, and harmony in what is. One day, it will be our past, and we will measure it against a yet unknown future. But for now, it is all we have: temporary, fleeting, and ours to be savored.