I’ve been thinking about impermanence a lot lately. A LOT a lot.
Thinking about it, talking about it with Shelley, with friends, in my mindful self-compassion course, in therapy, in work, in everything.
I’ve been considering where I am in my life. I’m certainly into the last third, if I’m lucky, two cancers down & not a great deal of longevity in my family anyway. I’m also very aware that I have several dear friends dealing with major illness right now, again, and others with close deaths and other loss. On a more prosaic level, my writing feels like it’s shifting again (mind you, it always shifts, poor publishers with no easy tag to hang on me!) and Fun Palaces is definitely changing, morphing, growing …
I have always struggled with change. Despite having been freelance all my working life, despite my work constantly creating anew, despite the life I have lived and live, I struggle with change. I don’t want stasis – except I sort of do. I don’t want the same – except I sort of do. I don’t want nothing to move – except that every time things are kind of ok (they’re kind of ok right now) I want it all to stay exactly the same, right now, right here. And it won’t, and it can’t, and I am trying, trying, to get easier with this. I expect it’s a life’s work, so that’s ok, at least I don’t have to be brilliant at it.
Meanwhile, I have always loved the sea, the ocean, the vast expanse that is ever-changing, that cannot ever stay still.
I feel an underlying, very pale, very light melancholy that my life is passing – it’s hugely full (and I know I’m using it as well as I can) but I also want to stop every now and then and hold moments and even that is impossible. There are no held moments.
I love this awareness, I welcome knowing that it’s all impermanent, even though I struggle against it, I love knowing that none of it lasts, even as the not-lasting makes me sigh, quietly. I love that, deep in my bones, I know this. I haven’t always known it, not as profoundly as I’m aware of now.
It feels very alive to be so aware that I won’t always be alive. And that’s also a kind of joy.
Stella, those words are lovely. That impermanence you talk of has been within my life since 1980, when my father, his mother, and my baby son died in the space of six months. One of my two brothers died in 2015. I’m approaching 67 and death has become more present among friends too. That desire for both stasis and change is very familar to me; I live by the sea and that great expanse encapsulates both those things, as does the landscape around my home with its vast chalk cliffs, forests and greenswards. There is solidity and comfort here that transcends sorrows.
that’s very hard for you Sarah, such a lot of loss in one go.
many of my immediate family died in my late teens/20s/30s, but I think I was perhaps too young to see any value in embracing impermanence then – or I did, but not in quite the same way I’m working towards now. I don’t expect to get there, but I’m interested in the journey!
Dear Stella, beautiful thoughtful writing; melancholic and joyful at the same time. The pleasure in feeling a part of a natural continuum and the pain when considering that all, ends. And often or always at a point when we realize there is so much more to live for. Aah life…
thank you xx
I would recommend The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli – a beautiful scientific book about non-time.
thank you Alyson, I do love a book recommendation for existential angst!! x
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