Changes in our lives can often be a source of struggle, frustration, and anxiety. Whether or not we see a change coming or a change occurs completely unexpectedly, it can still cause us to feel uneasy with ourselves.
Most of us will admit that we know everything is always changing. Although, it seems that this statement is often made intellectually. It is something we tell ourselves because although we know it to be true, we would like it to be different; we would like to have control. We would like changes that happen in our lives to be only what we view to be good with the bad being completely avoided. But of course, what is a good change and what is a bad change is based on our very limited perspective of thinking we know what is good for us and likewise, what is bad for us. We separate single events and attempt to judge them as good or bad based solely on their solitary occurrence. However, no event is truly independent of all other events. Events of immense tragedy often inspire events of great accomplishment. As is well said by the basketball great, Michael Jordan, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
There is a Taoist story that I enjoy telling, of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
How would we have responded to each event that we would view as misfortune? How do we respond to events we view as misfortune? How do we respond to changes?
Change is always happening. We may choose to call the changes of life good or bad, yet life changes without our permission. Changes are not something we can allow or not allow, although to the degree we perceive that we are allowing or not allowing changes to occur is the same measure by which we may struggle with changes as they happen. When we think we are in control of what is happening in our lives and can force things to result in a particular way that we desire we will experience many rude awakenings as life is trying to grab our attention to let us know that everything in life is really okay; that you do not need to control life as life is not controlling you. You are not separated from the whole of life and the whole of life is not separate from who you really deep-down are.
We can choose to accept that change is always happening. When this happens, we begin to live in the awareness that life is what is happening in this present moment. The present is the only place where anything at all is happening. Instead of swimming against the changes that are occurring, we swim with the river of life. Or in other words, we float. And as one who is floating in the water has ceased their fighting with the water to reach a desired destination, so we too cease desiring to control our own life and the lives of others and begin allow freedom and liberation to flow through everything that we do.
If two objects are moving at the same speed, or at the same rate of flow, they appear to be still to one another. So it is that when we are living in awareness with the flow of life, change does not appear the same to us as it once it did when we were afraid.
If we really accept change, nothing changes.