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From the Archives: Longing for Permanence in a Constantly Changing World

August 11, 2018 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” Susan Ertz

Which is it we long for, permanence or stability? Does it matter? Both are circumvented by a “constantly changing world.” Henry Miller once wrote, “… it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” 

Maria Popova of Brainpickings follows Henry Miller with thoughts of her own,

“…we resist change, we long for immortality, and we cling to the notion of the self, despite its ever-changing essence, as anxious assurance of our own permanence in an impermanent universe.

*****

Immortality

Most theists believe in immortality, although not permanent residence in this world but in a sublime after-life (unless their theology teaches they are subjects to life in hell if they don’t perform properly here on earth). Some Eastern religions (like Hindu) endorse the idea of returning as a new being. Some people believe in past lives. Whatever. The truth is, we long for immortality (in whatever form).

I believe that permanence and immortality are written somewhere in our unconscious DNA. We simply cannot accept “nothing.” It’s against human nature. Although our egos may long for permanence, the cosmos functions only with change.

Permanence

We long for permanence in a cosmos of constant change. Many people seem to want some kind of permanent immortality, as if important things will remain exactly as they are today. Impossible! Why do we think we can challenge the nature of the cosmos? After all, each of us is only a small particle in this ever-changing universe.

I wonder if you know that everything you have will not stay the same. Whatever you have now will change; whoever you are now will change; whoever you love now will eventually disappear; no matter what you are longing for will change into something else in minutes, months or years—they will all change.

We evolve, we learn, and we reconsider, as we face a constantly changing environment. In a massive overgeneralization, one might suggest the young are more adaptable to change than the older generations. But they also, surprisingly, long for immortality more strongly—they have yet to experience the inevitable pain and disappointment of living through decades on this planet.

What If?

What if you were to say goodbye to all those things you so deeply love or desire. Accept the fact they are impermanent. Then look forward to the surprise of change. Your life would be one of anticipation to see what is brought your way this day. Change would then be just another exciting opportunity for learning and growth.

What if you were to:

  1. Embrace change as the norm?
  2. Use change as a catalyst for growth and experience?
  3. Induce change so you may have a modicum of influence of it?
  4. Accept the consequences of change and proceed to take charge if you can?

Immortality may be possible (in some form) and it my not be. I don’t know for sure. And permanence is unreasonable. So we are like the sand under the ebb and flow of the ocean. The sand appears to be permanent but it is different every day. Top layers are swept away for new layers only to be swept away themselves. And the cycle repeats constantly.

The only one thing we can count on, life is what it is RIGHT NOW. Life in the now knows no change.

Permanence and Immortality Are Yours

Right Now

Photo courtesy of olegkalina at istockphoto

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