Years ago, I attended a circle where a group of strangers would meet and discuss ideas about love, life, death, psychology—and all philosophical questions that trouble our human minds.
I was facilitating the circle at the time, and a guy who was helping me prepare the discussion material suggested that we should play a video that was related to the topic, which was about the impermanence and transience of all earthly things.
Although it’s been years since the discussion took place, I still remember how instantly enchanted I was by what the narrator in the video was saying.
Later that night, I learned that the person in the video was no other than a guy called Jason Silva, a Venezuelan-American YouTuber, Instagram celebrity, and former National Geographic host who is renowned for fusing science, technology, and philosophy to pique people’s curiosity about ideas including spirituality, psychology, psychedelics and creativity, humanity, and human consciousness.
Prompted by a discussion that the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud had with poet Rike, in this video, Silva explores an idea called “existential bummer,” and uses it to explain why an emotion such as love simultaneously imposes upon us a degree of sadness, lovesickness, or melancholy—or in his own words:
“Perhaps that’s why, when we’re in love, we’re also kind of sad…that is why love simultaneously fills us with melancholy. That’s why sometimes I feel nostalgic over something I haven’t lost yet, because I see its transience.”
As someone who has loved way too many times, each time falling deeper and having my heart broken even harder, I believe that the best way to explore life is to be fully present with each moment to moment experience.
Over the years, I have learned through love, grief, and loss to embrace the Buddhist notion of mindfulness and nonattachment (the latter being a continuous work in progress). I understood that life is but an ephemeral experience, a mirage, and somewhat of a magic illusion that, just like the ocean, ebbs and flows. Or is, in the own words of the great philosopher Alan Watts,
“Now you see it, now you don’t.”
But transience isn’t just some Buddhist notion that is meant to provide us comfort when the very things we love and hold on to start to crumble and fall apart. It’s a fact of life, and the truth is, everything and everyone we know, including ourselves, and all the things we see and love and hold on to will one day decay and dissolve into nothingness—at least from a physical point of view.
As to what happens after we pass on, maybe that should be a topic for another discussion.
Life is short, but it is also incredibly precious.
And in my sheer moments of sadness, when I feel like my soul is being ripped apart, I try my best to remain grounded in the reality that life is too short, and it is even shorter to dwell on the things we cannot grasp on to because we were never in control, to begin with.
Life is too precious not to live it with an open heart and a sense of expansion, freedom, and joy—or to live closed off to the love and the sadness—even when it hurts.
I especially loved this quote from the video by Dylan Thomas, “I will not go quietly into that goodnight, but instead rage against the dying of the light.”
If you enjoyed this video and would like to share your thoughts, leave a mindful comment to spark a conversation.
May it be of benefit.