We hear this all the time. Nothing stays the same. Everything must change. But, there is something about being human that resists and denies change. We all long for stability, for the familiar. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It would be hard to survive if we truly thought about how in flux everything is, how when we leave the house today, we might not return tonight. We couldn’t function without assuming some things would be the same as we left them when we come back to them. However, clinging too tightly to what will change will cause suffering. We have to learn to hold on loosely.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve had two friends lose their dogs of approximately a decade each. One suffered from an illness a few months. The other, who regularly ran away from home to do day trip adventures, didn’t return from one of his day trips. In one of those families, the mother of my friend fell and broke her hip in three places. Every time one of these things comes into our life, it starts out as an “ordinary day”. We wake up and look at the sun and think “It’s another day.” Spring rolled around (kinda) a couple of weeks ago and I thought “It’s Spring again.” We recognize similarities between days and seasons, but it’s not Spring again. It’s Spring 2016 for the first and only time it will be in my life. Last Spring was totally different. At this time Shayna was playing in one of her last volleyball tournaments before nationals. I was looking forward to Kayla coming home after finishing her freshman year. Last Spring was nothing like this Spring except for the weather. There is a saying “You cannot step into the same river twice.” Obviously, we know the water molecules in the river change. They flow downstream to the sea, so that every moment, the river is a bit different than it was the moment before. But, the other reason you cannot step into the same river twice, is you are changing just as fast. I am not the same Brian I was last Spring. Just as the days roll into the next days and the seasons into the next seasons, none being the same as the last, the Brian I am today is not the Brian of yesterday or last Spring.
As I get older, this realization comes to me more and more. I love to watch the Masters golf tournament, maybe my favorite portent of Spring. I watch it every year, at least the final round. A few years ago it finally dawned on me though. I only have so many Masters to watch. One year, that will be my last and there will be no more. I know the players feel this as the career of an athlete is limited by his physical ability, but it’s true for all of us with any of our annual rituals.
I saw a video a few days ago that blew my mind. I’ll post it here, but I will try to paint a word picture for you. Here we sit on this planet that we think of as stable. Oh, we know it spins on its axis because we see the sun come up and the sun go down. So, every one in a while we might think about the fact we are not stationary, we’re actually spinning. We look a the sun and we know that’s the center of the galaxy. The sun is sitting still as we’re spinning around on our axis and our entire planet is orbiting the sun, making one trip every 365 days. Right? Well, no. As we’re spinning on our axis and as we spin around the sun, the sun is moving like a streak across the universe at 43,000 miles/hour. The sun is actually zipping along like a comet and we are being dragged behind it spinning and spinning. It feels like we’re stationary, just sitting right now, but we are zipping along in ways we can hardly fathom.
The realization that everything changes need not be a bad thing. It causes us to cherish the things we do have when we do have them. Knowing the girls would not be little forever, I cherished every single moment I could spend with them. I’m glad I had that realization and that we made magical memories. Knowing that everything changes gives me the strength to endure the time I am going through right now. I know this pain cannot last, will not last forever. The knowledge that no matter what happens or what else can happen, nothing can keep me separated from my destination is a great comfort to me in times of trouble. As I always say “Cherish the good because it will pass. Endure the bad because it too will pass.” What I am coming to realize, and this is hard to believe because it sounds too good to be true, is it will all be OK in the end. So, just enjoy the ride because it’s just a ride.
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