Valley Journal
Valley Journal

A Taylor’d Approach

A walk through impermanence

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Recently a friend of mine told me about a principle she’d learned from a Buddhist: everything is transient. I may not be Buddhist myself, but the concept intrigued me. It touches on something we all know but do a wonderful job of keeping out of our day-to-day thoughts. 

The impermanence in life.

Now, this idea can be approached in a nihilistic way, talking in large strokes about unavoidable death and the pointlessness of doing things. But rather than inspiring futility and uncaring, this philosophy could help us adjust to the inevitable change we’ll see not just in the world, but within us throughout our lifetimes. 

Everything is transient, so why are we so hard on ourselves? 

We can hold on so hard to the idea that “what is” means “what has always been and always will be.” We can avoid the idea of change in ourselves so much that when the impermanence of existing rears its head it can be devastating, even if what has occurred isn’t really a tragedy. 

Maybe you changed careers. Maybe you gained weight. Maybe you aged.

Nothing in life is permanent, and yet when the visions of ourselves we hold in our heads undergo an external change, we can be brutal. As though the very essence of who we are has been challenged, we can feel angry, upset, even betrayed. 

And yet such change is inevitable. 

If we all went through life bearing this in mind, we might be more ready to adapt when the time comes. We might be ready to embrace our evolving forms and roles and remain optimistic about the future. We might stop thinking we’ve already “peaked” and reevaluate our priorities. We might even find we’re atop a new peak, maybe as a friend, as an athlete, as a community member, as a knitter, as whatever it is we truly value in the here and now rather than in a past life. 

So, if you’ve been hard on yourself this year, take your own criticism with a grain of salt. You can always continue striving for self-improvement, but allow yourself some time to appreciate the impermanence of where you are right now as well. Buy bigger pants without dread, and try to lean into your new role in life with enthusiasm, even if it isn’t something you’re looking forward to. 

After all, the valleys in our lives are impermanent as well. There will always be another peak waiting. 

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