Sometimes I have temporary amnesia in that I forget how much can change in a day, an hour, an instant. If I feel blue, I think I’ll always feel blue. If I feel happy, I think I’ll always feel happy. I pretend a state of being is permanent when in reality, it’s anything but. For instance, I’ve been hawking my bank account, just waiting for payments to come in. I started to fret about what I would do if I didn’t get paid, the steps I would take. And then, cha-ching! The money arrived! Hallelujah! I literally danced with joy.
But the opposite also happens. I can cruise along, feel that all is right in the world, and then receive a text message that a friend died. Before receiving the news, I could have been smiling, but after reading the text I would start crying. Emotions are like this. They’re energy in motion. I rarely remember that though because I’m either chasing the happy, feel-good emotions, or I’m pushing away the sad, feel-bad emotions.
Our society does this too. We are encouraged to buy things – shoes, a phone, a car – or use drugs – alcohol, weed, ketamine – to chase away the pain. Our brains encourage this sort of behavior because they are in a perpetual quest for more dopamine, the feel-good, “more” molecule. But instead of trying to create a feeling, what if we just … waited? What if we instead recognized everything, EVERYTHING we’re feeling is temporary?
The temporary nature of life is on my mind because I wasn’t speaking hypothetically about receiving a text message notifying me of a friend’s death. That happened. I saw him on a Zoom call and then two days later he died of Parkinson’s. It’s surreal to me how quickly things can change. And my friend’s death is shaking me up because he was a staple of my childhood. Someone who was always around. I took it for granted he would continue to be, even after he got sick because I forgot everything is temporary.
My spiritual teacher says, “This expressed universe is nothing but a collection of temporary entities which are undergoing constant metamorphosis according to the sweet will of nature.” We are all temporary entities and we are all constantly changing. Nothing stays the same. Nothing. When I remember this, every emotion becomes easier to bear; every experience becomes richer precisely for its impermanence.
This isn’t a profound post, I’m not revealing a truth you don’t already know, but maybe like me, you forget. Maybe you forget the person next to you is not immortal and neither are you. Maybe you forget the pain you feel will end. Maybe you forget at any moment you can feel euphoric because you received good news. Instead of chasing after a feeling, what if we pulled back a little, practiced more detachment and surrender, and understood all we have to do is wait? Because even if it doesn’t seem like it right now, you’ll feel great again soon. I promise.
I dream of a world where we understand emotions are constantly changing. A world where we realize we can’t force ourselves to feel one way or another and we stop trying. A world where we understand if we just wait, we’ll feel great again.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.