“Birth and death in every breath…”
—Deva Premal and Miten
Recently, a dear friend told me that he is moving back to California, which he had left two years before for Florida, where we both live now. (This, only a few months after I moved here myself from Massachusetts.) A week later, I received news that a long-time friend in Boston had died of cancer. Hellos and goodbyes fill my life these days. Friends and family passing to and fro in my experience and my memory like vivid but ephemeral spirits. And I myself am moving with the flow of my own life’s journey, loving and letting go again and again.
Through the years, as I live through cycles of beginnings and endings repeatedly, I am discovering that one of the deepest truths in life is impermanence. Everything is born, and everything dies: experiences, thoughts, emotions, flowers, trees, birds, stars—each breath we take and we ourselves. Humans embody impermanence within their very existence here on Earth. We are born and we die, just like everything else we experience within our lifetimes. That can feel like both a curse and a blessing, but it is the basis of our very humanity, our evolution as individual souls.
My own experiences of joy and connection followed by sorrow and seeming loss have over time shown me that it’s all in how you perceive it. And our perceptions are always changing. What remains unchanging is change. Kind of a paradox, but it will guide you to inner peace and acceptance at the deepest level if you allow it to. At least that’s what I am finding. It is what my passage through life has given me, and I am grateful. I am learning, gradually, to let go of attachment to outcomes of any kind. That is freedom; that is how your soul experiences your life.
The idea of impermanence can at first feel frightening, but over the space of a lifetime’s experiences, it begins to feel like the key to all wisdom. Let go of expectations, attachments, plans, wishes, wants, mental machinations and emotional grasping. Let go of everything and just BE in each precious moment, free of everything that holds you to one particular outcome. Experience what is unfolding before you with an open heart and soul. This is what it’s like to live limitless possibility, to “hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour” (William Blake). Many, like Blake, who have traveled this path before us have reached this moment of illumination that takes them beyond one lifetime into the timeless expanse of being, which is soul, which is God. We are here to do the same.
As I live my life, as I grow older year by year, I find that deepening awareness and wisdom rise from my soul like mist in an open field on a summer’s morning. And I see it happening to others all around me. I feel blessed to live at an extraordinary time of collective spiritual expansion and expression, foreseen for millennia. As we come to recognize that we ourselves are God in human form, we realize that we carry divine wisdom within us. When we see the transitory experiences of life as the gifts that they are and receive and release them without attachment, we begin to love each day and everyone in our lives completely and whole-heartedly. We are no longer held back by regret or fear. We are fully present, fully alive. We are living the wisdom of impermanence.