My friend sighed and rubbed her forehead with her hand, “Man, I just don’t get it. Yesterday was so awesome, and today sucked soooo much.”
I made a noncommittal noise and replied, “That’s the cycle of life. Nothing is ever permanent. Your life can’t be happy all the time.”
That’s when I realized that I have come to accept the concept of life cycles as truth.
It’s an idea that (from what I’ve read) is largely pagan and to a certain extent Buddhist. If you observe the natural world, everything goes through a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This goes to show that the ultimate state of life is not some perfect stasis like heaven, but in fact is impermanence.
I find this whole idea incredibly comforting on two levels.
First, when life is sucking you know it’s not going to suck forever. Think of it as the inverse of the theory of gravity: what goes down has got to go back up at some point. Everybody has experienced happiness at some point in their life. It will come back around again.
Second, I have the tendency to want to clasp onto whatever I desire when I have finally acquired it so firmly that I manage to choke the life out of it and myself. For instance, when I’m in a relationship, I’m so panicked about keeping it that I miss enjoying it and wind up losing it. (For the record, I think I’m improving on this one). Similarly, when I’m living someplace I enjoy, I never want to move or for it to end. But everything must come to an end at some point. We just don’t know when that will happen. Even relationships that “last forever” end when one of the partners dies.
Accepting the impermanence of everything in life therefore brings about peace of mind. We aren’t blind-sided when things change. We were expecting it to happen since that is the true nature of life. What is really relevant in life is not maintaining some sort of stasis that we think will make us happy. Instead it is seeking in every situation to learn what the Universe is trying to teach us.
After all, in actuality, life is simply an ever-changing classroom.