I have been thinking a lot about change recently and how quickly time goes by. This topic has been rolling around in my mind like a marble for the past 6 months and this is my first attempt to articulate my thoughts on the matter.
We moved apartments and 2019 is almost half way over. My (no longer really a) baby sister just graduated high school. Friends are getting married, having babies, and buying homes. Topics of conversation in my friend group include debating the merits of screen time for our unborn children and the benefits of therapy. The last year of my twenties is upon me in full force.
I have never been one to reminisce on the “good old days.” My perspective is that these are the good old days. I have my health, a wonderful spouse, a challenging job, fun hobbies, and loving friends and family.
But then I remember that while I am sitting here writing this that even though I feel at peace now, my current emotion is not representative of how it felt to get here. Change in the moment is stressful. As humans we say things like “Embrace change!” or “Change is inevitable” but if we were as gung ho about change as we say, there wouldn’t be books, blogs, and entire professions designed around shepherding humans towards adoption of a new tool or process.
How can I simultaneously feel at peace in the current moment, grateful for what I have while acknowledging that this moment will pass and new challenges will arise?
I recently read Start Here Now by Susan Piver which is a friendly, accessible book about meditation. She follows the Shambhala tradition of meditation, which includes meditating with your eyes open and palms downward. While I’m still not a meditator I appreciated many aspects of her book including viewing your thoughts as a train racing along the tracks. For many people you are riding the train, unable to get off or observe your thoughts. Through meditation you can disembark the train and instead of being on the train you will be on a hill watching it go by.
After that book, I sought out additional content by her and found an interview with her and Dan Harris on his podcast: 10% Happier. In the podcast she was discussing her new book on marriage and how it relates to the 4 Noble Truths, which could be a post on its own. I was not familiar with the truths prior to this episode:
- The truth of suffering
- The truth of the origin of suffering
- The truth of the cessation of suffering
- The truth to the path of the cessation of suffering (source)
The first truth is often stated as “life is suffering” but not in a painful, Jesus on the cross way. According to the podcast, it is hard to translate the concept into English in a way that conveys the original meaning. My understanding is that this “suffering” is caused by our desire to hold onto impermanent things in life. Holding on to our desire to not age, to never leave vacation, to not experience change.
This resonated with me and with my bolded question above. It is such a delicate balance to love the moment you are in while not despairing that the moment will pass.