“This Too Shall Pass” — Dealing with the Impermanent with an Open Heart
On Mother’s Day week, one of my friends posted a picture of her mom on social media and shared something pretty emotional that almost brought me to tears. They had gone on a walk and my friend mused about how life had changed in a few decades.
She said something that could be summarized as:
“There I was, at the park, walking with my mom, who doesn’t walk so fast anymore, only to realize that maybe thirty years ago, she was the one pushing me to walk a little faster, to go a little further, who cheered me up not to give up. Where did time go? She’s not so strong anymore and she knows that. She’s also sad that her hand used to hold onto me firmly, and now it’s my hand that supports her and stops her from falling. Welcome to the sad circle of life.”
I felt emotional about her anecdote because I felt the same last year when my mom came to visit me and we took long walks together. As time passes, I worry more and more about my parents’ health. I am not “cool” with the idea of the circle of life, either. I still struggle and I think it’s sad and unfair. Shouldn’t all those who have done so much now enjoy perfect health and live happily ever after, without diseases or external concerns? A life Benjamin Button style — at least that’s what my “ego-mind” considers to be fair.
Then I remembered the concept of impermanence, which seems to be the core of Buddhism. The idea is that we shouldn’t grasp or hold onto anything, but regard all events in life with observance and equanimity. That’s the only way to keep us sane. If we are not holding too tight, it is normally easier to let go.
But how we tend to be in control. We want to avoid sad emotions and feelings, unhappy events. We fight so hard to stop anything from ruining our plans. But we don’t realize that everything in life is impermanent and even the best moments will also pass. So why fighting so hard for perfection when, in fact, perfection will also vanish soon?
It’s like planning a cookout with friends in your backyard. Even though it’s supposed to be beautiful and sunny, in the back of your mind you remember that it’s summer, and sometimes you see a few thunderstorms in the area. The rain could come, so you make extra plans. Just…