The Natural Flow of Life
I was looking at my family photographs recently and found some of a favourite aunt, both as a young woman and as an old lady. In one, she was holding her son, my only cousin. My mind floated back to many incidents where they had been at loggerheads over some trivial incident or another. Of course, to her they were not trivial at the time; it was only later that she viewed it with regret. In those days, punishment for bad behaviour was more stringent than it seems to be today and I remember her being so angry with him – this truculent, challenging late teenager ,who would push her buttons deliberately and stir up an argument between her and his father as often as he could.
At the time, that is what she thought she had – time. She thought that things would stay just as they were, yet the evidence of impermanence was there; this little baby of hers was now a surly adolescent. She remained the ‘actively involved’ parent, always wanting him to live in the way she thought was best, yet she did not have a happy marriage or fulfilled her own dreams in many ways. In fact, according to her mother, my grandmother, she was equally challenging as a young woman. She was there with her opinions throughout my cousins’ apprenticeship, marriage, parenting, divorce and remarriage. She shifted her allegiance depending on his compliance to her wishes – he continued to rebel.
Finally, she outlived him; she struggled with the pain and sorrow, but she lived the rest of her life with a philosophical attitude. She wished so many times she had been closer to him and had done it so differently. My observations of her journey gave me so much more understanding; when to be supportive and when to leave it alone, to choose my battles, to always act in a way that does not leave a feeling of guilt and, most importantly, that nothing stays the same.
I realised that our deep concerns of today, will merely merge into our life tomorrow. We believe in the idea that what Is today, will still Be tomorrow, but it isn’t. Our perception of stability is an illusion: everything is variable, temporary and constantly changing. So many people, men especially, believe they are defined by the job they do; sadly society has created that within them. Many are often more loyal with their time to the company than they are to their own family, yet the company will retrench them without a second thought if it works in their favour. We see it constantly in News programmes that yet another company has ‘slim lined’ their work force for the sake of profitability.
No matter how hard we try to future proof our lives, nothing can stay the same or last forever. Everything follows the simple laws of nature – that there must be constant flow. A river flows, finding its way across the earth, unerringly heading towards the sea. It forges a path that twists and turns to suit the lie of the land but, if that flow is blocked, it becomes static with a completely different identity; it become a dam.
Our denial of that basic truth is the reason we become confused, even scared. We suffer because we are projecting the myth of permanence upon a situation that is conditioned to constant change. Everything is interrelated and interdependent and it’s the nature of evolving to come together and fall apart to come again to rise to new heights.
It is human nature to always want; to look for the new. To see this in ourselves, we only have to observe a very young child constantly move from one thing to the next, As we travel further on life's journey, the outcome becomes less important and we value more the little moments that make our heart sing.