There’s a music video by Madonna called “Ray of Light” which I’ve always liked. It features very rapidly changing, flashing pictures of people all over the world going about their everyday lives, “living”, the sequences running so fast that the effect is almost dizzying. There have been a few instances this past year when similar images of time-lapsed video have popped into my mind and I’ve been left with the impression that Life is just a giant constant birthing, growing, evolving, moving, deteriorating, dying “happening” and there’s nothing we can do about it. We watch the rapidly shifting landscapes appear and disappear as this moving train we’re on called Life speeds by. We can never really take in or actually absorb anything, for it is all going by at the speed of light. It’s all just happening and we’re just part of the process.
As soon as we’re born, we quickly learn that nothing ever stays the same and yet we spend most of our lives trying to ensure that it does. For example, “My family should never move”, “My circle of friends needs to remain the same”, “My husband is not supposed to change” or similar thoughts appear in our consciousness from time to time. We even become annoyed or angry when people simply change their minds. “You said you wanted steak for dinner”, “You promised we’d go on vacation this year”, “I thought you never wanted kids” In politics, we even disdainfully call these individuals “flip-floppers”. However, vows, contracts, and promises are all formed in the context of hoped for permanence and then later we wonder why so many of these are broken. It appears that anything which has the semblance of standing still in time perpetuates the illusion that it is real and permanent. It also helps keep our idea of ourselves as separate individuals safe and secure. That is why sudden, abrupt drastic changes often make us feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us. We become agitated, upset, depressed or angry. We expect and demand that everything remains as it is, static. This is true sometimes even when things aren’t going so well. Say you lose a job that you despise. Even though you don’t miss the job itself, you may miss the stability, financial and otherwise that it brought you and so even losing something you hate can bring you grief. Many of us just fear any kind of change at all. It seems as if we really do live by that popular idiom, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”.
It’s easy for some to say, “Just go with the flow” when life quickly becomes a series of twists and turns and sharp detours, but how exactly do we do that? We can either resist change or surrender to it and as we know, resisting is much more painful. Remembering that we are NOT our specific situations or circumstances might help. These things which seem to be happening “to us” are just occurrences in this dance called Life, which allows ALL things. It’s interesting, my parents like to go on these motorcoach “mystery” tours from time to time, where they don’t tell you what your destination will be. You never know where you’re going or what you’re going to be doing each day of the tour. There is no itinerary. Sometimes that is how I like to look at life, as one GIANT mystery tour. How exciting to not know where you’re going to end up day after day. What a grand adventure! My parents trust that after it’s all said and done they will have had a great time and so they look forward to these trips. Embracing the mystery of life and the fact that change will always be a part of it, is important to our well-being. Having faith that in reality “All is Well” no matter what, can help to alleviate our suffering during those times that chaos seems to be reigning over our lives.