In the last three years, my marriage ended, my father died of a stroke and my younger brother committed suicide at the age of 46. During these years, the ground beneath me felt like it was constantly shifting. I experienced a feeling of groundlessness like never before. What I was experiencing head on, was impermanence, a cornerstone of buddhist teachings.
The idea of impermanence helped me to traverse these tragedies and not only survive them but grow into a more centered, stronger, compassionate human. Here is my simple take away. Here is what I know to be true and I hope helpful for others.
Life events including our successes, failures and emotions are all fleeting. This cycle is out of our control. Simply put we don't know when tragedy or beauty will come into our life. The only thing we control, our super power is how we react to life's impermanence. Our super power is how we react to life's never ending cycle of suffering and and beauty.
As the wonderful teacher Pema Chödrön puts it, “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
So how do we choose to handle this endless journey of coming together and falling apart, suffering and beauty? Do we accept it with dignity or with rage? Do we give ourselves time to process or do we charge ahead? Do we garner knowledge or curse against the injustice? Do we sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix or do we go outside and look at the sky? Do we connect with friends or retreat into our shell? Do we fall into victim mode or super hero mode?
How we process life's impermanence in my view, is our super power.