I’ve moved house and along with it said goodbye to my flatmate of three years. It’s sad to see him go, but as they say, life goes on.
I tend to be sentimental about the past. It’s so easy to get caught up in your day to day existence that when something ends, you sometimes wish you had appreciated it more, be it a period of your life, a relationship or experience.
Even with the not so great experiences, it’s common to look back on them through rose coloured glasses.
I spent fourteen hours, soaking wet, sitting shoulder to shoulder with nine others through the night in a life raft in the middle of the ocean. There was so little room it was an exercise in itself moving your feet from the bottom of the pile to rest it atop everyone else’s when you couldn’t bear the pain any longer. When someone needed to pee, you had to hold onto their flying suit to stop them from falling out.
It was part of my military training and was my most painful experience of Combat Survival Course - discomfort I was hating at the time and never want to relive again, yet look back on fondly along with the rest of the trials that course put me through.
However, my suffering pales to those who have endured far greater struggles to serve our country with experiences that haunt them to this day.
One of my best mates was never the same after experiencing war in the Middle East. To this day, he and a lot of veterans struggle with PTSD.
There are professionals who help people deal with traumatic life experiences.
But for the rest of us, how do we not dwell on the past, appreciate what we’re going through this moment and not worry too much about the future?
It’s All About Awareness
Impermanence is one of the four noble truths in Buddhism and “comprises the totality of conditioned existence.” Nothing lasts forever and the sooner you grasp and accept that, the easier it will be to let go when something in your life comes to an end.
The ruins of great civilisations which once were, that you might visit in your travels are examples of this. Dinosaurs once ruled this planet.
Taylor Swift is the biggest name in pop music today, but like others before her will sure and slowly fade.
Apple, Google, Tesla. They won’t last. Sure, they might outlast our lifetime, but nothing is forever.
So now that you are aware of this (which you already knew), maybe you’ll be more cognisant of the Power of Now, no matter how great or difficult it may seem at this moment.
If you are holding onto pain from the past which is preventing you from appreciating the now, this moment as you read this and breathe the air you are breathing, you’re suffering.
Losing your job, the end of a relationship, mistakes of the past. There is nothing you can do to change it. All you can do is learn from it and move forward. Don’t try to hold onto memories of what once was. Things will never be the same again.
Similarly, if you worry about the future, something that hasn’t even happened yet, to the point where it limits you from appreciating right now, again you’re suffering.
My sister and her boyfriend have moved to a new city and are living with my parents as they contemplate spending more than they’d like in a place to rent. They want to own their own home one day, so think maybe they should sacrifice now and rent somewhere cheaper.
We all need to make sacrifices whilst saving for a rainy day, but if you’re able, why live somewhere you aren’t happy with right now in the hope of something better in the future? I don’t like to paint a dark picture but what if it all ends tomorrow? Don’t wait for the future (i.e. retirement) to enjoy the toils of your life. Enjoy it as much as you’re comfortable with and can afford whilst you can.
We all have our issues from the past and worries about the future and the theme of this post is similar to those from Your New Normal.
This pandemic has affected us all, some more than others and has been a real test of character. You don’t realise the strength you can endure emotionally and physically until faced with such tests in life. Understand that these hardships will pass, just as the ones you’ve overcome before them and are all the more stronger and wiser from.
Similarly with relationships. People will only be in your life for so long. Family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Plan for the future but appreciate what you have with these people right now because as they say, life goes on.
Learn to accept impermanence. It’s a part of our human existence and highlights the need to find happiness whilst valuing everything in your life right now, be it good times or bad.
So the next time you find a moment at home, at work or on vacation, look around you and appreciate that moment, because like your moods, relationships, belongings, opinions and beliefs, it won’t last.
Time changes them all.