There is beauty to be found everywhere, even in decay.
The falling apart and breaking down that has to happen before new life can appear is something we could all learn to love. The constant flow and cycle of life is so obvious and beautiful in the natural world when we take the time to observe it.
We are a part of—not separate from—this natural world.
I have the lucky circumstance of living and working close to Regents Canal in London. The canal is a slow meandering strip of water that runs through the city. It is tree lined and peaceful in many places, and hands down the best way to commute.
Cycling along the canal everyday, I get to observe closely the changes in seasons, watching ducklings and signets grow into scruffy feathered teenagers and then adult birds. Watching flowers, berries and leaves bud, grow and then dry up and decay, only to be renewed again in months to come.
Even in a city as big and far away from wilderness as London, these things exist.
Unfortunately, most of us have blocked or forgotten our place as a part of the natural world. We have stopped seeing the ever flowing and changing cycles of creation, growth and dissolution happening around us every moment of the day, and we have stopped feeling ourselves as an intrinsic part of it.
By removing ourselves from the flow of nature and believing we are separate from it, we wrongly think we are in charge and have control.
We have divided and separated, establishing a totally false sense of security for ourselves. This false sense of power and control us humans have, due to our disconnection from nature, has just led us to fear and discontent. We now fear change and anything we can not totally understand or control.
This is a losing battle.
Rather than fighting to control the river’s flow, we can instead jump in and realize we are just another drop of the water in the river and a part of it’s flow. As the Tao Teh Ching so beautifully puts it:
“When you stop trying to push the river, you relieve anxiety and stress. Use your brain wisely; don’t be used by it.”
~ Tao Teh Ching
We will absolutely find ourselves in awful situations out of our control, situations that invoke anger and rage—but instead of being afraid of the unknown and trying to build that (false) sense of security through control of the external world, we can instead choose how we react and respond from a connection to our internal one.
We can choose how we react and respond to change—but control, direct or stop it? Maybe not so much.
I can jump in with the flow, or I can fight it.
Fighting the flow of change is really just me fighting with myself. Trees do not fear the autumn when they lose their leaves; they gracefully let them go knowing they no longer need them. This allows the trees to draw their energy inwards in preparation for new growth that will come.
If life is just a continuous flow of change, then there is nothing to be lost or gained: there is just change.
Nothing that is of any real importance can be taken and nothing can be gained as we not only have it all already, but we are it already.
Joy, for example, can not be taken or given to me from the outside. If we look outside ourselves for happiness, and then blame someone else for our own sadness we are on a futile, and disappointing, journey.
Happiness can only be realized from the inside, just as loss and sadness can also only manifest from within.
Try observing the change you see out in nature, any tree or plant can provide a wealth of material and learning. Then try observing, without judgement, the changes you feel within yourself. When we embrace change and flow with it with grace, we have nothing to fear.
And then we have nothing to lose and then indeed nothing to strive for and gain.
Be that drop of water returning to the ocean and fearlessly jump in.
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Assistant Ed: Renee Picard / Ed: Bryonie Wise