Buddhists use this term to describe the constant state of change. Life is impermanent. Everything changes. Suffering, the Buddhist says, exists in part when we hold on to that which changes, wanting it to stay the same.
Today in Phoenix is the perfect day to write about this. It is the second day in a row we’ve had non-stop rain. I have mud-caked tennis shoes in the car port looking like I just left a horse stall, not walked down my palm tree lined street. I’ve lived here for two and a half years and this is the first time I’ve experienced this. It is different, not the same. And, today I like it. It reminds me of Seattle without the promise it will remain this way for four, five, or six months. It will change. It really doesn’t matter if I like it, anyhow, because it is what it is … raining.
Elements of life are this way. We do have influence over much of life, some over none, but we always have choice over our participation with it.
Speaking of Buddhism and choice, I attended a Buddhist meditation retreat this weekend. Silently with an internal focus thirty five of us sat on meditation pillows breathing in while saying to ourselves, “sitting, sitting.” Our meditation then varied to standing. Standing, and with each breath we said to ourself “standing, standing.” We ate, walked and did yoga with the same contemplative diligence.
I lasted ten hours and then left.
An internal energy welled up within me encouraging me to “go out and live.” I have come to trust my “welling up” moments. In the midst of our fourth round of yoga, I got up and quietly exited, packing up my bags and blew the pop stand. Yes, I went meditation AWOL. Two years I invested my life as a contemplative, and my being is now wanting me to produce and act. I’m changing.
Returning home after going AWOL, I had a phone chat with my sister. She informed me while I was sitting on a pillow the U.S. Post Office had gone bankrupt. Not knowing what this means, we spoke for some time about how we live electronically. “I swear by my bill paying,” sister says, “I won’t have it any other way.”
We both spoke of our love of downloadable books and our recent reads. Champions of their portability. The instant delivery. The light weight iPad we both enjoy. We figure if bills are paid on-line, e-cards are given for birthdays and holidays, newspapers and magazines read electronically, then junk mail and deliveries seem to be remaining and they can be delivered by private companies.
I remember when the most stable job in the country was that of a postal worker. Working for the postal service became more dangerous as I got older. Amidst this stability, “going postal” became a euphemism when in 1983 thirty five postal workers were gun down by a dissatisfied employee. And recently, the concern over transmission of chemical agents through the post office has been of paramount concern. Even the post office changes.
And I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. Bill Gates gave a speech I attended in the 80s where he spoke of newspapers arriving in an in-box instead of on one’s doorstep. That was thirty years ago. Reminding me of the power of a strong vision amidst a time of change.
I sign off today, not in a state of swivet, but instead resting in the wisdom of life’s impermanence.
(Note: Thank you Glenda for today’s word of the day “swivet” meaning extremely aggitated)