“We should not complain about impermanence, because without impermanence, nothing is possible.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The Buddhists remind us that everything is impermanent in this life. Nothing lasts forever, things are always in a constant state of flux. The seasons will always change, we will all live, then die. This is the cycle of life, and without it, nothing would be able to exist. Change is the very essence of life.
Yet it’s the thing many of us fear the most.
We like our lives to be like a big warm blanket, surrounding us, protecting us from the evils of change. We like our routines, our day to day. We like the way things were in the olden days.
We don’t like to think about how someday, our warm blanket will wear out (because it will). We don’t like it when our routines get upset (what do you mean my favourite coffee shop closed down?). And we really don’t like it when things aren’t the way they used to be (especially when it comes to technology).
The thing is, lots of people I talk to wish that things were the way they used to be. Before voice mail and email started to take up so much our time. Before cable TV and 500 channels and garbage reality TV. Before smart phones and video games started to distract us from our lives. Why, oh why did it all have to change?
The Good New Days
Some days, especially when technology seems to be working against me, I wish I could go back to the old days too. When the only distraction from my real work was the occasional phone call at my desk. When I knew that the Muppet Show would be on every Saturday night at 8pm, and that it was basically the only thing to watch, because I only had 8 channels of TV. When the world was a less noisy place with fewer people trying to push their message and sell me things I don’t need.
And then I remember, that the world is impermanent. I remember that progress and change is a good thing. I remember that the very technology that I complain about has allowed me to tell my stories, expand my career in new ways, and become good friends with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. I remember that without the changes that technology has brought that I wouldn’t have met my husband. I wouldn’t have this job. And I wouldn’t be writing this right now.
This Too, Shall Pass
For a lot of people of my generation and older, the incredible changes that technology have created in the way we communicate, the way we consume content, and the way we teach others, causes much worry and strife. We are overwhelmed, because it’s a huge shift in how with think about things. The generation gap between us and the GenY’s and the Millennials seems to be only getting wider, and we don’t even know where to start.
So, fearing all this change, we retreat. We do nothing. We stick with the status quo. We go to what we know, instead of asking how we can do it differently. We fight for what once was, instead of fighting for what could be.
We can no longer fear this change. Because impermanence is life, and resisting change will only cause more pain in the end. No, we must embrace the change. We must do what we need to do to adapt. Sometimes that means having to improvise. Sometimes it means taking a stand when things aren’t right. Often, it means leading the change too.
Just think, in another 10 years (or less), the things you were afraid of changing today will have changed again. We will have to shift, and adapt, and embrace the impermanence of things all over again.
Change is not going to stop. Which means, we cannot stop. We must keep moving into the change. It is how we will learn, and grow and be better friends, better parents, better kids, and teachers, and employees.
Pretty exciting, eh?
[photo by el patojo]