Embracing Impermanence

It is easy, at times, to think that life is just a repeated pattern of mundane tasks and responsibilities. We arise in the morning and shift into whatever auto-pilot commands are necessary for the given day. Our thoughts and feelings seem to be the same thoughts and feelings from yesterday, or last week. A person can begin to feel like they are stuck in a loop, feeling like the gerbil running on an exercise wheel. There is some validity in our repeated patterns of thought and our responses to life. However, the truth is that nothing really remains the same. Every day is unique and we are not the same people today that we were yesterday. To help us embrace this truth, let’s listen to the words of the Teacher, one of the wisest people ever:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every mater under heaven.Ecclesiastes 3:1

When we look carefully at the nature of life, we understand that everything is impermanent. Our physical bodies are constantly changing, cells are dying and new ones are generated. These physical changes may sneak up on us, but then we come across a photograph from the past and are confronted with change. Our feelings, thoughts and perceptions are also changing. Only after living today do we have today’s experiences which shape and change us. Like the saying that you can never enter the same river twice, the one constant thing about our lives is change.

So, going back to Solomon’s words in the book of Ecclesiastes, how can can we best live life TODAY? First, recognizing life does not stay the same allows us to make the most of the moment. Whatever “season” or “time” we find ourselves in, we are capable of being completely present in the present. It is true that yesterday is gone and tomorrow never gets here, all we have is the present moment in which to live, to love, to connect with self, with others and with God. AA has it correct when they talk about “one day at a time.” So did Apollo Creed have it correct when he told Rocky, “there is no tomorrow,” (Rocky III). At each moment in our day, we can completely give ourselves attentively to the task at hand, or we can be bogged down with yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s worries. Without our conscious decision, it is easy to simply go through the motions of life without really paying attention. Perhaps this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote these words to the church in Ephesus:

Sleeper, awake! Rise for the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be Careful then how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of the time…Ephesians 5:14-15

May you take time this week to stop and smell the roses, or to watch the sunrise or sunset. May we all make the most of every moment.


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Marty Hale | martyhale.org

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