We often resist impermanence but without it there would be no growth, no forward movement, no life. Everything would be static. We need impermanence. It is what propels life forward and allows us the opportunity to experience the full spectrum of emotions: from exhilaration to calm, from joy to sadness. It’s what brings us all that we experience.
There is a story of a Native American grandfather walking on a journey with his two grandsons. The grandson tells of how hot the journey was and how he lusted after the upcoming river; of how the heat of the day baked him to the core and his craving for the cool water was relentless. When the three of them reached the river, both of the grandchildren leaped into the water, drinking as they swam.
On the water’s edge grandfather was praying to the river as he always did: slowly and patiently reaching down and taking a mouthful of the sacred water. Later, one of the grandchildren asked Grandfather, “how is it that you are not affected by the heat and are so willing to be at ease with such harsh conditions?” With an expression of doubt, unsure of whether his grandchildren were prepared to grasp his answer, Grandfather answered, “because it is real.”
Only when we become attuned to reality can we be free from suffering. Like the heat, impermanence is real. When our mind is busy rehearsing and rehashing, grasping at attachment and aversion to what is real, we are unable to sit in truth. What are we missing when our minds are off grasping? We are rarely truly here. Impermanence can gently move us back to what is real.
Recognizing impermanence also reminds us that even if we received everything we ever wanted, it would still be impermanent. When life is difficult, those difficulties are impermanent too. It works both ways. This truth offers us the chance to sit with the faith that, while we strive for better, ‘right now’ is good enough.
There’s a meditation we can do called “Good Enough”:
Our car is good enough.
Our job is good enough.
Our clothes are good enough.