Giant chunks of rock and ice soar through its cold expanse with no destination, and no set path. Stars of unimaginable proportions on occasion explode, sending a blast of radiation in all directions that is so powerful, any nearby planetary bodies are incinerated within seconds.
Is there a purpose behind these occurrences?
Does Halley’s comet intentionally pose for the telescopes before whizzing off for another 75 years?
Does a red giant wake up one morning and suddenly just decide to go supernova?
No, because these events are caused by random physical laws that we have no way whatsoever of controlling. In other words: shit just happens.
But I think an unknown Shinto monk put it more eloquently when he said, “the only truths in this life are beauty and impermanence.”
So why then do we reject the impermanence of the ever-changing universe when it comes to our own lives?
Why do we cling to old, habits, places and people so dearly, even if they become negative influences?
Why do we place so much value in order and permanence, even if it means living a boring and monotonous existence?
The answer is simple: we fear change.
The Unknown Scares Us
Whether it be the change of state from life to death, a change of house or even a change of wardrobe, it signifies a transition into the unknown. What we do not know, we cannot control. What we cannot control, we fear.
It is human nature that our imaginations jump to the most unpleasant outcomes: the new neighborhood will be more dangerous despite its excellent reputation; the new job will be less satisfying even if it’s doing something we’re passionate about.
Such fears are understandable, rational even, as defense mechanisms against disappointment. But is it really necessary to shield ourselves from potential hurt at the expense of being constantly afraid? Surely not.
Fear in all its forms is negative, and the fear of change is no exception.
Make Change Work for You.
Therefore, the key in dealing with change is to try and look past its possible negative outcomes, instead seeing what it can do for you.
In every change there is great opportunity and adventure to be found – if only you look for it. Be proactive. Be a go-getter.
Instead of fearing it, be excited for it. Instead of cowering away from it, welcome it with open arms. Savor the feeling of change; as we will see in the next section, it is part of what makes you human.
Impermanence is a Blessing, not a Curse.
Imagine if everything stayed the same, if objects, people and ideas remained fixed in relation to each other in an unending state of permanence; how utterly boring everyone and everything around us would become.
Without an end to things there would no longer be any sense of meaning or beauty in the world. Nothing would age, wither or disappear but by the same token, nothing would be born, created or renewed.
We would be stuck in our present relationships forever, doomed to carry out monotonous task in a world that no longer knew what it felt like to experience something new and extraordinary. The words “new” and “extraordinary” would not even factor into the collective vocabulary.
Perfect order would have been achieved but at what cost?
Losing the very chaotic change that made our lives worth living in the first place?
There would be no cycles save for the never-ending cycle of ingratitude. Because how could we be expected to be grateful for things which have always been and always will be? How could we not take these things for granted if we had never experienced losing them?
Without Autumn, we would never appreciate Spring; without clouds we would never appreciate sunshine and without death, we would never truly appreciate life.
Our lives, fleeting as they are, are that much more beautiful because they end. Every second wasted is a moment in time that you will never get back, and this gives us motivation to make the most of them. We are able to enjoy each sunset and savor each meal because we have so little time to do so.
On the other hand, if you lived forever, I guarantee that after the first couple of hundred years, the most pristine Hawaiian sunset would seem like a bad postcard, and the finest rump steak would taste like airplane food.
Change is Inevitable
Realize that no matter how much we may try to avoid change – no matter how much we may wish that things would stay the same – it is and always will be a part of our lives.
Change is inevitable.
Our only choice in the matter is whether to accept it amicably, or be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the next chapter of our existence.
For Further Reading,