How Not Letting Go Is Causing You To Suffer


The cherry blossom gently falls and dies very shortly after it's bloom each year. The very limitedness of its life, its impermanence, is the reason why we find it to be so beautiful, the reason why we stop to appreciate it during it's bloom. If the cherry blossom lived forever, or even much longer than it does, would we notice its beauty as strongly or would we take the cherry blossom for granted? 

Our lives are similarly short. Our time in this life is so limited yet we take our days, moments, lessons, love for granted. We forget the impermanence of life and go through our days on autopilot, forgetting to stop and appreciate what is in and around us and instead go about filling our days with things that don't bring us happiness, with activities that have no real meaning, with distractions that widen the gap between ourselves and what this life is really about.

If we could remember the impermanence of life, perhaps we could appreciate its passing with as much appreciation as we do the cherry blossom.

Impermanence and Suffering

Our struggle with impermanence causes so much of our suffering.  We want so badly for things to remain as they or just as we want them. And when things falter, evolve or change, we are greeted with feelings of stress, disappointment, sadness, anger, mourning, grieving, wishing that things were different or as they once were. If only we could accept impermanence and the reality of each moment, our lives would have more joy, even in loss. We would appreciate the painful beauty of each passing moment and of our fleeting lives.  

Sometimes we make plans and life delivers them differently. We plan for one thing, have things all mapped out, then things change in life and the plan fails. We want control because it makes us feel safe, but life is ever changing and evolving and the outcome of things cannot be predetermined. We can be angry and stressed or we can accept this uncontrollable reality and accept that life doesn't always conform, adjust, make a new plan and understand that this one may not work out either. 

Often we are faced with an unexpected turn of events- a crisis, an unexpected visitor, a job loss. We often resist these changes and greet them with frustration, anxiety and anger. Perhaps it is better to accept that life in unpredictable and appreciate it for its wonder. Having this alternative outlook can make life so much more joyous. 

I am turning 30 soon and have been noticing with myself the many physical changes that come with getting older. I freaked out when I went to the doctor, was weighed, and saw that I was 10 pound heavier than I was used to being. I didn't feel particularly "fatter" or in poorer health. In fact, I take really good care of myself and am the healthiest I have ever been. My body is just different than it was when I was 20, just as it will be when I am 40, 50 and so on. I could sit around feeling un-pretty- wishing I could eat the same crap I did years ago, or wishing I was 10 pound lighter or that I looked how I did when I was 25. I instead just embrace my body for being a remarkable machine and be grateful for all it does for me each day. I feel more beautiful and accepting of myself now, at 30, than I ever did. 

I have been wanting to start a blog since 2009. I consistently made excuses for myself, saying "there is no point" or "nothing will come of it" and that I don't have time and just forgot about it. Recently, I found myself in need of a creative outlet and remembered my blog. I told myself the same excuses once or twice and then decided that I can't control what life will bring and can't predict the outcome of my work. All I can do is appreciate the positivity that the blog brings to my life, be thankful for my ability to do it and endeavor to do my best. I started my blog because it is creative, brought me happiness and would hopefully do the same for some of my readers. 

Let me share a situation that I have found myself in where I have had to learn the ultimate lesson of embracing the reality I am living and to set forth on appreciating it for what it is as opposed to trying to hang on to what once was.

My father has Parkinson's disease. He has had it for over 10 years, but in the past 5 years his disease has progressed to a point where I don't recognize who I once knew as my father. He is weak and can't walk well, when once we used to go and do all kinds of things together. He is fed through a tube when once we shared a love and passion for food. His brain doesn't function like it once did. He used to be able to tell you what 140 x 17 was in about 5 seconds, now it will take him an hour to figure out how old you are based on what year you were born. He was once the person I went to for all of my life advice but now he is no longer capable of  helping in this area. Sometimes I feel like the life has been sucked out of him. 

If I held on to who he once was before his disease, or spent my days wishing he was healthy, I would cause myself so much suffering. When I think about the past with him- 1 month, 1 year, 5 years or 10+ years ago (and trust me, things change at a rapid pace)- I do not grieve or wish things were different. I smile at great memories and feel really happy to have him in my life exactly how he is in this moment. I have learned to accept each stage of the disease and the changes in my father, and really embrace who he is each day.  The lesson and practice really paid off when just 3 years ago he was in the hospital in months in a sort of comatose state- unable to open his eyes, talk or really even move. When we brought him home, he laid in a hospital bed in our living room most of the time, said few words and opened his eyes rarely. I was sad and scared, of course, but I noticed that I wasn't suffering. I was happy to have him home and spent my time with him trying to make him smile, just enjoying being in the same room with him. My dad ultimately recovered and since has had his fair share of changes, health problems and scares, each of which I accept with open arms.   Being able to live presently and not hang out to the past has really allowed me to live, when it comes to my father, free of sadness, anger, disappointment and mourning. With anything in life, it is so much easier to just be grateful and happy and accepting as opposed to struggling with the loss of what once was. 

In each of these situations (and many others), the impermanence of life can cause so much suffering. But when we embrace the impermanence and work with it, life is happier and a bit easier on the soul.
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