The bitter-sweet reality of impermanence

Recently my life seems to be mostly aircraft, airports, hotels and taxis.  I love sleeping in my own bed. If Rhea is there also, then it is perfect.  I sat there in the hotel restaurant eating breakfast.  It is with no great pride that I admit that I felt a little sorry for myself, wishing I could breakfast at home. As I sat there a couple walked past, close by the table where I sat, well into their 80’s frail but capable.

The thought sprung to mind that twenty-five years or so on and that will be us: Rhea and me.  It also brought to mind what Buddhists call the four noble sufferings: Birth, Sickness, Old age and Death.

To contemplate death is not a particularly happy sort of thing to do which is why we instinctively avoid it. In the words of Christopher Hitchens: “It’s not that the party is over. The party is going on but you’re no longer invited.”

Immense sadness and gratitude at the same time: all of those years raising five children the hard times, the great times, the closeness, the sharing. It is so fortunate to be alive, to be conscious but to share that with another… I really do not know what more I could possibly want. I see my beautiful clever children, all adults now and it fills my heart to see what good hearted, kind compassionate people they are. They are the best of us.

I feel like the most fortunate man alive.

But my attachment also causes suffering.  When I think of how all of this will end, how all will change. I will soon grow old and die my children too. This is both the beauty and sweetness of this fleeting existence less than a flicker in the cosmological scale of things.

Here I stand so infinitesimally small and yet within that smallness a consciousness so expansive that I can hold and appreciate it all. Rhea and I stand together side by side, hand in hand, in awe, in wonder, in the gift so fleeting so precious and at its base so infinitely mysterious.

Reading the news we see politicians around the world increasing venal and out of touch with the people and the real issues that face us all. They are concerned primarily with self-enrichment and power. Watching them is like watching two fleas arguing about who owns the dog. Their vision is equally limited.

The demands and distractions together with the drive of the ego mean that we live with the vision and consciousness of chickens scratching in the dirt, driven mindlessly by the egocentric autopilot, rather than with the massively open vision and consciousness of the eagle soaring above.

When we live in this reality of the miracle of life, of appreciation, then it’s all “small shit”; it’s all just part of the experience.

Science really has enabled us to understand how things work. It has given us great control over our environment. However, all of the big and most important questions remain just as mysterious as they ever were. The most important aspect is that, without losing touch with the science, we each develop our own relationship with this mystery.

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