Issue 09. / The Changing Nature of Life
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Embracing the Changing Nature of Life
A truth we often resist seeing is that the only constant is change, and that every beginning in our lives will also come with an ending. I often feel resistance to loss in my own life, but lately I’ve been practicing penetrating this truth with my presence because I want to understand how we can live fulfilling lives by integrating (not resisting) the reality of loss into our understanding of life.
How do we accept loss and change with a humble and willing heart when it inevitably punctures our lives? I think we innately hold this skill within, whether we feel connected to it or not. We were destined and built for change. As I continually witness the cyclic nature of beginnings and endings in my life as well as the lives of those around me, I find myself in awe of the innate human skill of adaptability: how we endure change after change after change and, even in the presence of our own resistance, we still manage to fold ourselves into the ever-changing shapes that our lives take on.
It has me wondering if we were made for this. Transformation, that is. And dare I say we even crave it on some level––the deeper level of our psyche that understands the law of existence that all things must participate in loss in order to encourage the movement of life’s cycle of transformation. …In order to propel our own self-evolution. That part of ourselves knows this: it’s profoundly worthwhile, and even necessary, to undergo the astounding process of converting pain into beauty and loss into life through our own willpower.
I like to consider that maybe our lives are not made meaningful by continuity of any single thing in our lives, even the bonds between us and what we care for most. Rather, meaning is generated by two things: being fully present in what's alive in our lives right now, and participating in the process of being changed over and over again by the transience of all that we experience—all of which eventually ends.
Trees gracefully participate in this same cycle. In autumn, there’s a mess of death layered on the earth’s floor. But beyond what appears to be, there’s a thorough process of life taking place as a sea of fallen leaves decompose and provide a continued source of nutrients and water for the trees.
There’s almost always more to see of our experiences than what they initially present, but we have to be willing to see outside the limits of our perception. You see: beyond a singular event of loss is a greater process taking place—a process of life.
The experiences we have that don’t always make sense, like endings and loss and all it entails, require a deeper look. We tend to get caught in the sense-making, but in doing so we hinder our ability to see the forward progression beyond what initially appears to be so.
Nothing we lose is ever truly gone. It may be withered in the sense that we know it—and sure, if you stop there you’ll feel the heaviness of loss. But all things are ultimately recycled into another form of life. Leaves don’t simply disappear after they journey toward the earth. They alter their purpose in an effort to sustain life.
I like to think that this bizarre human experience invites us to do the same: through all the inevitable losses we’ll experience, can we alter our purpose and shift our perception over and over again to seek and surrender to the greater purpose of life? Can we find the threads of life that run through even our greatest losses?

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Meditation as an Anchor Through Change:
Meditation is a tool that can help us carve out spaces in our lives to let the eyes and mind rest from trying to see things as we want them to be. In the space of stillness, even if the mind is busy (as it inevitably will be at times), we can be present with the changing nature of life and release our compulsive need to cling.
There’s a different level of freedom that I feel in the stillness of meditation. I‘ve long considered the mind my greatest tool for chiseling at life. That’s why I’m a writer—words and deep reflection help me make sense of life. But overtime I’ve come to see that Presence is actually the most powerful tool I can access, particularly because it doesn’t try to make sense of things but merely allows things to be as they are.
Don’t get me wrong: the mind can be an incredible instrument that, if tuned and played by a skillful player, can create a beautiful melody.
That’s the lovely thing about self-reflection, therapy, “working on ourselves,” deepening our self-awareness—they all help us tune our instrument and learn how to better play it. But the mind is also inherently limited, and even the most self-aware person can get caught in over-analyzing and sense-making.
Sometimes there just simply isn’t an answer to find. No clear path through our problems. No response waiting after the echo of our greatest Whys. But at least we can be free by just being mindfully aware of it all. No matter how busy the mind is, meditation is an opportunity to be neutral observers of life and all its mysteries and challenges and joys and chaos by simply being present and witnessing the in-out flow of the breath.
We can be still, right in the center of all of it.

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may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that
– Lucille Clifton

E-newsletter for the seeker of meaningful thoughts featuring photography, writings, meditations, reflections, and other soul food.

Samantha Case