“This Too Shall Pass!” Living With Impermanence Through Hard Times.

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:18 New Living Translation

Police brutality. Riots. Pandemics. Mass unemployment through government coercion. The inflation of the US dollar. When does it all end? Will it ever end? These questions and more are probably going through the minds of every American today as they try to peacefully live their lives amidst the chaos. Can there be any hope of this ever coming to an end or is this the beginning of hard times to come?

No one is going to want to read what is about to be written, but the truth is nothing is permanent for better or worse. This is the glimmer of hope we can rest upon or it can be one’s undoing. The truth no one seems to understand about hard times is that hard times have always been around for at least one person in this world. Even in the best of times, someone is always addicted to drugs. Someone has been murdered, raped, robbed, or simply cheated by their employer or friend. One person’s good time is another’s tragedy. Should this realization make anyone feel better? No. It does determine one thing though. What one is going through has already happened to someone else somewhere and will likely happen again somewhere else.

The simple truth is that since nothing in the world is permanent, that means the good times don’t last forever. The good news is that neither do the bad times. That statement is not permission to simply wait for someone else to solve whatever problems one is facing, but it does mean that a call to action CAN make a problem go away no matter how large in scale if one makes the effort to start solving it.

The understanding of impermanence has been taught throughout history and discussed through many philosophies and religions. Buddhism, for example, discusses impermanence as the main problem they address in order to achieve enlightenment. The understanding of how temporary everything in life is becomes the motivation to do more with the life they have. Aaron Clarey makes this distinction as one of the main if not the main motivator for living a minimalistic life in his book, Poor Richard’s Retirement: Retirement for Everyday Americans. This is not a new conversation, but it is one that will continue to be discussed as long as life remains on Earth.

Thus strong wind does not last all morning.
Sudden rain does not last all day.
Even Heaven and Earth cannot make it last

Tao Te Ching Chapter 23

Why then should one care about the current cultural climate if nothing is permanent one may ask. The answer is in the question. It is better to adapt to the changes that life brings rather than to wait for everything to change one’s life for them. A person has a better guarantee for a favorable outcome when they flow with change and act rather than sit around waiting for everything to change for them. One’s attitude and actions can determine the outcomes as much as unforseen events can. In many cases, the only way for positive change to occur is if people act to ensure that these changes are made. That can certainly be the case for the police brutality, race riots, and a whole host of other issues Americans are currently enduring.

Regardless of one’s stance on the issues or which side they’ve chosen in the conflict, the one guarantee in all this is that no one wins if they continue to attach themselves to the feelings of hate. The attachment to material possessions and instant gratification is a direct result of Americans being spoiled for so long that they’re not ready to let go of the comfortable world they have been used to. They weren’t ready for change. No one expected people to lash out when they’ve felt as though they’ve lost everything.

Understanding impermanence may not solve their immediate problems, but it would give people more perspective on how things work in reality. There are people taking advantage of this chaos for selfish purposes in the cities that are burnt both in media and on the streets. All anyone who isn’t directly involved can do is try to survive it and hope the violence never arrives at their front door. Will we see a cultural shift or will this be a short lived storm? We may not know the answer, but Marcus Aurelius understood one certainty that would be wise for us to understand now when he was dealing with the many problems in ancient Rome.

“Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time.”

Marcus Aurelius

If we are to live with the idea that nothing is permanent, then the best thing we can all do today is think about what or who is most important to us and cherish that. Don’t think so highly about material possessions, current job or standard of living because those things are starting to disappear fast for a lot of people. Think about the people who made a difference in your life and the memories you will cherish with them because they too will disappear. If you don’t you may not get a chance to say goodbye when they are gone.

As far as these hard times are concerned, it may seem bad now and will probably be this way for a long time, but panic will not help you. The media and splintering groups will try to convince you to get involved using propoganda for either side of the political spectrum. They want you in panic mode. They want a reaction. The mainstream media doesn’t want someone to sit and take the time to process everything before making a decision. Cooler heads will prevail and the right actions are all that can get you out of a bad spot. Stay strong even when everyone else is scared. You’re probably scared, but you have a duty to yourself and those who love you. Think of those who need you and if there’s nothing else worth fighting for, then fight for their love. Those you love are always worth keeping a cool head for.

Sometimes, like in the cases of natural disasters, all one can do is accept the change and endure. You may have to lose property. You may have to abandon your old life. There is a feeling of powerlessness, but ask yourself if it’s worth it to cry and worry over it forever when there’s nothing you can do to stop the weather from changing. Sometimes, all one gets is the ability to endure the storm. The best one can do is adapt to the changes made and do whatever is within your control. Always remember that you can change your attitude towards negative outcomes even if you can’t change the events themselves.

In conclusion, change is the only constant. Nothing remains forever. The best any of us can do in these hard times is to not try to be the problem affecting everyone else. If one can, avoid trouble. If you’re in the thick of it, find a way out. After this is all said and done, nothing will be the same, but one can only hope we can become better men and women once it’s all over.

Until the Next Daydream…

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