A friend and I were reflecting recently over some tragic events that we had experienced in the sudden and unexpected loss of people in our lives. Moments like these bring us to a crisis point: to know that someone was walking around one moment and in the next moment face the reality that the person is gone–in an instant, a living human being irreversibly removed from one’s life. We are often left not only with no words, but suddenly feeling like there is nothing in life that we can hold or trust.
Many of us have faced those moments of crisis. The pain and the grief are real, and they do change us.
I wonder sometimes, though, if we don’t unintentionally make those horrible moments even worse for ourselves. I walk around most of the time, most days, as if nothing in my life is changing, as if everything is rather predictable. The fact is, everything about me and my world is always changing, but things are changing at such a low level of intensity that it allows me to pretend otherwise: that I am in control, that I can know, and that being well or even just okay depends on things not changing.
But, they do, always, all things, all the time, and my pretending otherwise doesn’t change the changing of things. When something huge, sudden and unexpected happens not only must I deal with the grief of the loss of a loved one or a home or a job, but I must further grieve and recoil from the deeply held belief that things don’t change. Not only has my immediate world come crashing down, but my view of the world has as well. Some of us never recover from that kind of self-induced double tragedy, the one brought about by life, and the one brought about by our desire to avoid suffering by pretending that things don’t change.
We can walk through today choosing to notice all the little things that change, and that is my invitation to us. It doesn’t matter where we choose to bring our focus, things will be changing and they are there for us to observe. As we do so, I offer these words from Mark Nepo as a grounding exercise and as a reminder that we can find peace in the midst of so much change:
I now remember that I am here and present in this moment.
I am grounded, alive, and connected in my body.
I am open and receptive to the truth and compassion of my heart.
I am clear and awake to the stillness of Mind.
I bear witness to the presence of the One.