Sunday, January 15, 2006

Transient are all conditioned things

Here is my own New Year's response to my previous post:

In the winter, I like to take the time to reflect, look inward, and plan for the future. Someone once told me of the “stop, start, continue” model where you evaluate what you want to stop, start, or continue, and the New Year is a time that I like to think along these lines. The big thing I have been thinking about of late is change. I realize just how much change is going on, how it will never stop, and how I'd better get used to it!

I have already written about how I am now into embracing any new exercise fad that comes along and enjoying short-lived toys. That is a revolutionary approach to life for me. I have always been one to seek permanence or classics, but now I reflect on that and ask myself, “why?”

I think about the things that bother me these days and usually they are things that change too quickly. I don’t feel that I have time to find my feet and get organized before everything has changed again. I know with the kids, change comes all too quickly. I get things all set up the way I like them, in a way that is appropriate for their age and activities, and before you know it, before I am used to it, they are off into a whole new phase again. Whoosh!

I was reading a book by Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein (a Christmas present from Greg from a year ago) called It's Easier Than You Think. It is a very down-to-earth, practical, funny book that talks about (among other things) how there will always be pain, but there doesn’t have to be suffering. Pain we don’t have control over, but suffering we do. I realized that for me, change is painful, yes, but I don’t have to suffer. I can just let it go and decide to ride the waves of change. The title of this post—transient are all conditioned things—is a quote from the book. I don’t understand it, but I like it.

When I think about the previous post on the Right Way that I wrote last March, I realize that this is one of the reasons I suffer when things change. I naturally seek a more permanent, universal Right Way, one that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, change. I think I have found IT, then it moves, and then I suffer irritation and annoyance. It is good to know that is where my irritation comes from. Now I try to just see that as the pattern for me, think of the beauty of transience, and move on. I am hoping this will keep me younger.

So my new year’s resolution is to be more open to change, to be flexible, to enjoy and notice my desire for a Right Way, to enjoy the process of working toward a smooth and efficient life, but to accept change as the natural state of things. It’s the journey, not the destination, and all that.

I remember my grandmother, a very thoughtful, adaptable, forward thinking, and open-minded woman who had seen a lot of change, expressing her frustration on this subject. “I am tired of change,” she said when she was in her late eighties, ”I have changed my whole life, and now I'm tired of it.” I can completely understand where she was coming from and I am less than half her age! I loved her, respected her, learned a lot from her, and would be blessed to be as energetic, interesting, and dynamic as she was at her age, but I think I will have to give change a little more leeway if I’m going to succeed. I am too young to stop changing now!

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