This was my life a year ago to the day. To be completely honest, this was my life for the past several years on New Year’s Eve night. Like many other people who worked in the service industry, December 31st was always a night that you wanted to work because it would, without a doubt, be financially beneficial; or in other words, you made a pretty significant amount of money.
I thought that this December 31st wouldn’t be any different, but as we all know now, saying that everything has changed is quite an understatement. And that is one of the blatantly obvious messages of 2020, which has most likely been avoided, ignored, or unknown to so many people for far too long. This idea that nothing changes and everything stays the same is the type of mindset that creates so much pain and suffering in this world because people desperately want things to remain constant. It’s comfortable. It’s safe. It’s secure. But, it’s not reality. Reality is that every single thing on this planet, including you, changes from one year to the next, one month to the next, one day to the next, one hour to the next, one minute to the next, and quite possibly one second to the next. And there is absolutely nothing that any one of us can do about it.
What we can do is come to this place of acceptance. What we can do is start to recognize this view that I’ve come to know as the Law of Impermanence. According to what I’ve read and researched over the last few years, the Law of Impermanence, which is also regarded as the philosophical problem of change, is a concept used in a variety of religions and philosophies. I was first introduced to it during my Vipassana Meditation course in April of 2017 as a Buddhist principle that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is "transient, evanescent, inconstant". This means that all temporal things, no matter if they are material or mental, are multifaceted objects in a continuous change of condition, all of which are subject to decline and destruction. All physical events and mental experiences are not in fact metaphysically real. What this means, is that they’re not constant or permanent, rather they come into being or existence, and at a certain point in time, dissolve or no longer exist.
This concept is not always that easy to wrap your head around because it challenges your control, or perceived control, that you may have thought was real for a majority of your life. I know from personal experience, that I always thought I was in control of so many things in my life that I found out later on, were never once being coordinated or controlled directly by me.
But, once you start to truly grasp that everything is fleeting and not one thing can escape change, you open up a world of possibilities for your mind, your body, and your soul. You see, that bartending job that I had for quite a few years wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was a means to an end that provided me with the time and funds to explore so many people, places, and things all across the world, and for that, I am forever grateful for the opportunity. However, in the back of my mind, I knew it would eventually come to an end because all things do when they are supposed to. Whether that happens by your own volition or by some other external force doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Just remember that if you choose to play out your situation, it will result in a change or something coming to an end.
And, I know my situation and personal experiences that I’ve gone through are by no means unique or at all special. Each and every one of us has had to deal with our own issues, circumstances, and situations over the last 9 months or so. Many people have endured much greater loss and tragedy than others, which is how life plays out sometimes. I wish I knew why, but those types of decisions and results are way above my and everyone else’s paygrades. How life unfolds is pretty much out of our hands and is delegated to powers, forces, entities, or energies that are bigger, grander, and higher than all of us. We are human. All we can control is how we react to the way life happens.
Because life will continue to happen. Regardless of what year it is, albeit 2020 was quite the “gut punch” for a lot of people, life will materialize in ways that make you smile, laugh, stumble, cry, and in all instances leaving you in a state of wonderment. Amazed by what you’ve experienced. Bewildered by what you’ve experienced. Confused by what you’ve experienced. Left questioning or doubting the reasons for anything transpiring.
But, you know there’s a silver lining surrounding all of that. It’s the seemingly simple, yet very much miraculous, fact that you are alive to experience all that this life has to show you. In this moment, wherever you are physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, that sentiment may feel insignificant and like the worst consolation prize, anyone could ever receive. And, I get that. I realize that the way you may be feeling right now is something you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. Your emotions are all over the place and you can’t seem to place your feet on solid ground or keep your head above water. You are constantly asking “why is this happening to me?” or “when is this nightmare going to end?” and all I can say to both of those questions is, “I don’t know”. Because I don’t know and neither does anyone else.
That doesn’t mean you should lose faith or hope that things won’t get better, because they will. Do you remember earlier when I was explaining the Law of Impermanence? Well, that law doesn’t just pertain to specific things, it’s overarching and all-encompassing truth. Therefore, whatever you are going through in this moment won’t last forever. It may appear that way when you’re stuck in the thick of it, but please believe me when I say that things will change. They will get better. They may get worse still before they get better, but they will get better. That is an indisputable fact of life.
So, if you’re having trouble trusting anything right now, which I totally understand, trust the concept that everything changes; no matter if it’s good, bad, positive, or negative. You will make it through whatever you’re facing if you believe that you were presented with obstacles on your journey because you were regarded as someone who could handle it. And, you can handle it. I know you can and you have to wholeheartedly believe that you can too.
I am beyond grateful for this moment and I invite you to be as well. Words can’t even describe how thankful and blessed I am for the gift of quality time with family and friends, both near and far. Especially during these turbulent times, it’s imperative to soak up all the moments you’re given the opportunity to be surrounded by the people you love, whoever that may be because not everyone is as fortunate.
However, this year has looked for you, try to put it into context and appreciate it all to the best of your ability. It hasn’t been ideal and for many people, it’s been consumed with tragedy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our lives and all the people in our lives that are both here and no longer with us. Remind yourself daily that life goes on. It always does. Make the best of it and understand that this moment, this time, any feelings that arise, are fleeting. They are impermanent.
And use all this past year's experiences, as well as what you’ll experience moving forward, as a way to truly recognize how lucky you are to be alive. How lucky you are to share moments with the people you care about. How lucky you are to give love and be loved. Find that gratitude and hold it near and dear to your heart. No matter what.
Have a happy and healthy New Year’s everyone!