Embracing the Ephemeral: The Only Constant is Change.

Via on Sep 13, 2010

We all have those fleeting ‘ah ha’ moments that blatantly remind us of the reality of impermanence. These experiences tend to amplify the fears and resistance towards this inevitable dynamic in life.

My subtle yet powerful reminder came from an unlikely source – watching the Emmy’s.  I think that Julia Ormond is one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. I always picture her as Sabrina immortalized in the wonderful remake film – in her late 20’s and stunning. As she ascended the stage to collect her award, my mind had automatically expected to see Sabrina, and, although she was just as beautiful, if not more so, her face reflected the years that had passed.

It is in circumstances like these, when a moment is captured, that amplify the effects of the continual pull of time. My reaction to seeing Julia’s change in appearance reminded me that, like most people, I have a resistance to impermanence.

Quietly reminded on a moment to moment basis of the process of constant change, most consciously and subconsciously choose to resist the uncomfortableness of this inevitable. This opposition and resistance, no matter how slight, causes much suffering.

Do we find impermanence so uncomfortable because it is an obvious system which is blatantly out of our control? Most people don’t like to be reminded that there are still aspects of life that are out of their realm of domination.

So, if it is known and understood by all that growing old, getting sick, death, and the entropy of material possessions are inevitable, then why do we continually fight the unavoidable transgression of this temporal law?

“That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”

- Pema Chodron

The constant resistance against something that is inescapable in this lifetime seems to epitomize the definition of insanity. It is understandable to take measures in order to postpone the inevitable; however, there are differences between living a healthy life to deter sickness and death, and being so attached to your body that the aging process is mourned and change is fought.

Beyond the fear of degeneration, entropy and that every second is bringing us closer to death, each person has their own specific contentions with impermanence.

The weight society gives to youth, purchased objects, along with the seemingly innate fear of the ‘ticking clock’ gives rise to a resistance deeply rooted in our brains. An attachment to fleeting ideals which creates a constant, personal, losing battle against an absolute law of ephemerality.

Ahhh… Attachment. Attachment to appearance, material possessions, people, and the comfort of the known present moment. The true obstacle to overcome in order to become accepting of fleeting moments.

I established personal exercises for accepting of the truth of impermanence, deal with my personal issues of attachment, and to also begin the process of actually embracing and appreciating the process. The goal, of course, is to assume a view of acceptance within the true nature of reality.

For me, I am comfortable with the deterioration of material objects, thus I somewhat automatically limit my level of attachment. When I purchase something I immediately remind myself that it will not last and is already in a state of entropy. I reiterate that it is only a material object that brings me no lasting happiness so it will also not bring me suffering if I were to lose it, break it, or if it were to fall apart or be stolen.

My most pressing issues with impermanence stem from my strong attachment to the people in my life. The idea that the life of my loved ones are transitory is immensely painful for me.

I use this pain to remind me to become more mindful and present when in their company. Savoring every moment of time spent in their presence reduces my need to attach and increases my ability to appreciate. There is no room for guilt or regret, only gratitude for the present experience.

I have come to regard my aging process as a beautiful ripening and continual creation of the being I strive to become. As I reflect back on the path which has led to the present, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the lessons learned and the experiences lived; however, I have no attachment to the past thus have no desire to rewind the clock or pause time. The future prospects of learning, loving, and merely appreciating every moment as it presents itself is worth the cost of wrinkles and grey hair, as I make my way towards the next lifetime.

Nothing outside of one’s realm of control is comfortable, nor are the thoughts of becoming sick, dying or losing something or someone that is cherished.  Since existing the past is a futile resistance, as well as questioning and fearing the unknown in the future is pointless, there leaves only one choice for a joyous existence given the nature of reality: Living in the present.

May we all revel mindfully in the present moment appreciating what is here now while accepting and taking comfort in the thought that the only constant in life is change.

About Jennifer K. Jones

Jennifer K. Jones is the owner of a multi-media marketing firm, yoga instructor and practitioner, holistic health practitioner, writer and artist. Mother of three incredible little boys (& a girl on the way) who will hopefully grow up to live their passions with gratitude, radiate and spread pure, unconditional love to every being that they encounter, and thrive within the vast openness of their wildest dreams... and she is striving daily to lead them by example. Contact Jennifer on Facebook or at her website.

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10 Responses to “Embracing the Ephemeral: The Only Constant is Change.”

  1. Darrin LeBlanc says:

    I remember as a young boy laying on the floor at home watching a special on PBS about the miracle of human birth. I remember the narrator saying "From the moment of birth we begin dying." I remember being probably 8-9 years old and thinking "Wow that makes total sense." Along with other oddly placed early recognitions like "we come into this world alone and we leave it in the same way" I have always been mindful of the impermanence of things and people and yet still I love being attached to things and people around me. I've never been sure it's the attachment that is the real problem. I'm pretty sure it's the inability to recognize when we need to detach that causes the real problem in life. To love with all ones heart the people and even some of the things around us cannot be wrong can it? Otherwise why love a pet that you know will most likely die long before you do? And yet we do. With all our hearts or else we cheat ourselves and all those around us by not really being there.

  2. Darrin LeBlanc says:

    These days when I look back at pictures of myself when I was younger I am amazed and wonder where that person is and then realize he's right here just a different version. I used to have a rule to try to never look in the mirror because I thought it was pointless. I'm not sure I was wrong. The constant is indeed change and some of those changes are more painful than others. Change reminds me to surrender and accept and keep striving to be present with all my heart.

    • JenniferKH says:

      Thank you so much, Darrin. Like everything, it comes down to view and perspective. This countdown to death can induce fear and dis-ease or it can serve as a catalyst for true appreciation for every moment. We, personally, hinder our clear view of mindful appreciation by selfishly attaching our own needs, desires and motivations to things and people. We can altruistically revel in the beauty, grandeur, and love for others while not attaching storylines and personal needs. It's such a deeper level of loving than that tainted with attachment. A much purer and more liberated love and appreciation, if that makes sense. No strings attached, no conditions, and absolutely no limitations.

      Yes, change can be very painful, especially if resisted. My current main practice has been to stay open. Open to all that comes without the labels of good or bad. Trying to eradicate any resistance to the dynamics that present themselves. It's amazing how less painful and difficult change can be if it is welcomed and expected. Fear, itself, is so thick and heavy. By simply becoming open to the unknown, embracing the moment, and letting go of the fear associated with this inevitable change, it is amazing the level of clarity and lightness that can be achieved. More time available for love and compassion :)

  3. Bertie says:

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  4. Dylan Barmmer Dylan says:

    Beautiful, Jennifer. Thank you for the raw, real reminder of what it is. Write on.

    -The Mad Yogi Poet

  5. NoSoupForYou! says:

    "Beyond the fear of degeneration, entropy and that every second is bringing us closer to death, each person has their own specific contentions with impermanence."

    It's true… the fact that the fate of all energy/matter is a state of entropy is fine proof of the concept of impermanence, but no humans will ever have to fear entropy for any reason until our sun dies in somewhere between 5 and 7 billion years from now. Just sayin.

  6. JenniferKH says:

    Hey Austin – First of all congrats on finishing up with college! The attachments and expectations are what end up hurting us in the end. Maybe you went in with a preconception of what your college experience should be. As I told Darrin above, my main practice has been focused on staying completely open without expectations or labels – that's my way of welcoming change and the dynamics in life with completely open arms. It also automatically negates any regret or guilt from the past. When you drop the regret from the past, the fear of the unknown future, you're left with the perfect present, unlabeled, un-judged, uninhibited, and unlimited.

    You are so wonderful, my friend. I miss your face and your amazing classes.

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