These have been the years of impermanence. Like, not-a-spiritual-cliche, not-fucking-around, impermanence.
Impermanence bordering on despair. Impermanence to weed out the weak and put hair on your chest.
Go ahead, build your life, step into some happiness. But there is a chance, a higher than usual chance, that something completely out of your control will knock it down like a house of cards.
These have been the years of starts and stops. Impermanence training. Travel training. How do you give-it-your-all knowing it will end soon. That is the ultimate meditation, right?
Maybe it seems insensitive to say, (as I sit here with my new life flowing so smoothly), that these storms, these fires, these earthquakes that taketh away are training us for a new state of mind. Can I say that and still swear that I am sensitive to the sadness and grief that comes with loss.
You lose more than possessions. You lose effort, time put in. You lose progress, goals. You lose routines and stability, you lose infrastructure for joy.
I don’t know a loss of thirty years. But I know many losses of one year. One year here, one year there, most of my own choosing. And a few not of my choosing. So I know worlds changing, I know grieving the way things were. I know transition. I do understand. It is not easy.
There’s blame we place, because how nice would it be if someone else could change the fact that in fact we are never secure. But then we are victims, because someone else has the power over our reality.
We are waiting for the ones in charge, who convinced us they were in charge, who charged us to be in charge, to take charge. We’ve gotten used to the idea that someone will take care of us. Waiting makes us victims, and victimhood makes us scared.
So what is happening?
We are taking control. We are stepping up and doing the jobs left undone, because it feels better to act than to wait and whine. We are learning how to take care of ourselves, because there is power in independence.
These have been the years of taking charge. Of grassroots. Of communities gathering to demand, and when demanding doesn’t work, to act. Years of the bitter realization, followed by despair, then denial, and finally acceptance, that there is no one else who will take care of us.
We have been complacent because it is convenient, because we are conditioned to believe that things are taken care of. And we have been angry when the caregiving is inadequate, when it doesn’t meet our needs.
Until we realize, we are not children. Why are we waiting for someone else to make it better, when we know what we need and what we want? Why wait and be angry when we can take charge.
I am seeing that the power will go out. That the water will turn off. I am seeing that there is no “safe” place to call home. Not safe from inflation, not safe from gentrification, from disaster, from change. So I am redesigning how I think. Not, ‘how do I keep my world the same?’ but ‘how will I survive as it changes?’ What will be my purpose? Do I have the skills I need?
I am weaving options into a safety net to catch me from despair. I am fighting fear with knowledge.
I have learned that people I love will leave. They will take away the laughs and joy that grew between us. I am learning how to feel that joy in myself. Not because I don’t want others, but because sometimes I have no choice. I am learning how to laugh on my own.
These have been years of resilience. Of rolling with the punches. Of twirling with the punches. Of turning the fight into a dance, and learning to love it. Of living through dissolution and disappointment enough to make an art of it. To laugh a little at outdated expectations of accomplishment, of progress, of permanence.
I am enjoying my new successes, but without as much clinging, because I have other things now that make them seem less important. And now with a knowing smirk. “Don’t get too attached. This too, my dear, will change.”
“And you will be OK.”