Some years ago a woman shared an insight she had on the day she moved house. This is the gist of what I remember she said. I watched the removal van disappear out of sight at the end of our road. I felt calm. The van was filled with all my possessions, all that had been my life up to then. My life with my late husband for so many years, my life bringing up two children and much more. It contained our memories. At that moment I knew it didn’t matter if I ever saw the contents of that van again. On the brink of a new life, always a potent time for insights, she saw into the fundamental impermanence of existence. And most importantly, I believe, she saw past or through impermanence as it was impacting her, to know a peace that comes from acceptance – while at the same time she was preparing to follow the van!
In this post titled Slow Change I talk about feeling oneself to be up against the wall, stuck and unable to move on. Of necessity, and the way things seem to work, times of turmoil, tears and self-doubt (to mention but a few emotions) often precede changes that can be seen and known. As is the case when deciding to and then preparing to move house. But that’s not the end of it. After a brief respite to unpack and settle in the fact that tears and turmoil re-emerge should not be seen as a mistake or a wrong direction taken. Anybody who has navigated the complex network of footpaths in Britain will know there are an infinite number of options to choose from and most paths will take you to more or less where you intended. Which one was the RIGHT path?
Birth and death, the Great Matter, or the truth of impermanence is ever-present. It is however easy to take this truth personally because it impacts us so very personally. The very understandable and human response is to think, Life is doing this to me and it hurts, Q.E.D. I need to solve this problem so my life becomes stable and fulfilling (again). The temptation to rush to solutions and in so doing miss the steps in between, is huge. Most often what is called for is to sit out the bumpy ride and allow what’s next to show itself. For most of us what happens in practice and what makes the road bumpy is second guessing oneself. By that I mean getting caught up in mental turmoil while at the same time lurking in the dark is a ripe knowledge of what’s right…but, but, but… Is it? The solution? Mentally step away from the wall, whatever that might mean in any particular moment or circumstance. Remove your back from what is known. This is a constant movement.
The Bodhisattva Vows are coming to mind so that’s the next thing to think/write about. And with that thought I’m removing my ‘writing back’ from against the wall where it has been resting for far too long.
This post, the merit of writing it, is offered to several people I am in touch with who have made huge changes to their lives in the past couple of days, and for those who are about to make a move. Oh, and not to forget the woman mentioned at the start of this post. Last time we met, and I saw into her current life circumstances, I said ‘you are indeed a Bodhisattva’.