“Why do things always have to change?”
This is a line from a Sigur Rós song—and whenever something dissolves in my life, I find my self asking this question.
Well, change hasn’t always been my cup of tea. I tend to create a bond with whatever I enjoy and admire, and before I know it, I find myself fighting for its perpetual presence. It could be a place, a person, a moment, an experience, or an emotion. Whatever it is, I try to shield it from transforming.
However, it wasn’t long before I realized that protecting myself from change is as futile as wrestling a pig and expecting not to get filthy. In fact, anything that I crave keeping seems to slip away more easily than anything else. At one point, I almost believed that life had something against me and her eyes were shut to the rest of the world.
But, life has always been with me—not against me. For everything that I lose, life helps me see how things naturally operate—and that anything I want to keep will always slip away from me until I understand why it does and how to react to it.
It’s pretty much like a teacher repeating the same lesson until the students finally acquire it. That said, what’s the lesson here? “Why do things always have to change?”
“Anicca,” the Pali word for impermanence, is the core of Buddhism. The entire teachings of the Buddha revolve around the fact that nothing stays the same—everything transforms. Learning this, it’s made me understand that change is the natural law of life. Whatever rises eventually dissolves, and whatever dissolves eventually gives birth to something else.
This is one tough truth to absorb. I’m not the only one who has spent most of her life protecting what’s currently present. We might want to protect and hold on to a bad habit, a good emotion, a toxic person, a lover, a substance, a job, or a place. In other words, we protect our comfort zone and expectations.
Nonetheless, if we put our fears and hopes aside, we understand that we can’t stop change from happening. What we regard as a “loss” is only a natural cycle coming into being. It’s quite common, however, to fear loss. Change means uncertainty and that’s precisely why we fear it. We don’t want what we know so well to dissipate.
And so, when we see the wave of change heading toward us, we try to escape it—but to no avail. The only solution is to learn how to ride the wave—but how can we we do this?
To ride a wave means to go along with it—not against it. Consequently, when things change, we need to go along with them. Instead of focusing on keeping what’s dissipating, we need to focus on what will be born from its dissolution.
You see, in the crux of something’s absence, there is always the presence of something else. We only need to open our minds and look beyond the horizon of our fears.
It is true that change is a natural law, but it’s also a cycle. Death always leads to birth, and the meaning of true happiness is to expect the birth, yet be prepared for the death.
Nothing is fixed, and this is beautiful. This natural law is our chance to not cling to experiences, but to only enjoy their present availability. I still create a bond with what I admire, but I don’t fight for its continuous presence anymore. Its absence has become as exciting as its presence. I know that for everything I lose, a lesson, a realization, or a confirmation will come to me.
Riding the wave of change starts with accepting the inevitability of change. It will happen to everyone, all the time. We can’t accept one side of the coin and ignore the other.
We’re usually happy with beginnings, and the proof is that we always celebrate birthdays, weddings, birth of newborns, graduations, and so on. However, rarely do we anticipate their endings. That’s why the surprise and shock that endings ensue are always intense.
I’m not saying we should celebrate the loss of our job or the death of a loved one, but we do need to learn to accept it and adapt to it as much we’d accept a new beginning. Anticipating change makes us appreciate what we have in this present moment, and this is something we rarely do.
If something is currently changing in your life—be happy. Something else is making its way to you.