I reached into my pocket and my fingers wrapped themselves around a fistful of change. How appropriate, lately the world seems to be overflowing with change. It is the one thing that we can rely on. One of the most basic beliefs of Buddhism is the concept of impermanence; that we should not cling to any object, person, or belief because our reality is constantly changing. If we develop attachment to any specific entity outside of ourselves we are developing a reliance on something that is going to one day cease to be. People die, objects become broken or stolen, a person’s beliefs can shift and grow into new beliefs and values. Instead of focusing outside of oneself in a futile attempt to battle impermanence one should endeavor to focus one’s energies within. Inside ones perspective is a whole world of views, concepts and feelings that are entirely within ones control. Through these mechanisms we can free ourselves from unnecessary suffering.
Soon I will be leaving Spokane, I will be leaving the hospital that I work in, and I will be thousands of miles from my friends and family. These changes seem daunting. I am haunted by misgivings. How long will I be unemployed? How will I like my new home? Will I like my new community? Will I miss my family and my friends? Sadness creeps into my mind as I think about the relationships I leave behind. I yearn for the comfort of what once was. But this desire for things to stay the same brings me nothing but suffering. All of my life will change. Every single cell in my body is in some way different than it was the moment before; in order to survive we must embrace the change. Everything around me is a product of my perception. My friends and family do not cease to exist because I cannot see them, I merely have to recall their influence on my life and I am moved to happiness. Instead of longing for what was I can be excited about what will be. Circumstances do not dictate ones happiness, perception does. Wealthy people and successful people are plagued with the same miseries as the poor and unaccomplished. Change brings us pain and fear and choosing to dwell within those emotions brings us suffering and unhappiness. Acknowledging those emotions, understanding them, and ridding ourselves of the roots of those negative feelings is the only way to bring ourselves contentment and happiness.
As my fingers grasp the change in my pocket and drop them effortlessly in the outstretched-pleading hands of a stranger on the street I think to myself, “This change will help improve this man’s life.” The thought makes me smile. Whatever happens in my life, no matter whom I am leaving behind, no matter what I think I am losing, I will not have reason to suffer. Change will make me grow, my existence on this earth is finite and in my lifetime everything will change into something new. This is not something to be feared, it is something to be celebrated, change is interesting and beautiful.