Impermanence, Choices, and Change

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“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

I have been contemplating our impermanent nature while re-watching the Lord of the Rings movies, which are part of my modest collection of ‘go to’ movies for precarious times. We know that life swirls in cycles and that change is inevitable. The idea of permanence is relative; even what we deem to be a permanent change in our lives will never lead to a situation that will last forever. We know this, yet we grasp for the elusive idea of permanence, to absolute terms. We want to have decisions in writing. We expect promises to be kept forever. We want to make a resolution and stick with it for the rest of our lives. Yet, many other circumstances often decide our fate.

Recently, a good friend shared with me that for a long time, she was reluctant to tell her friends and family about a lifestyle change that she had accepted. She was worried that she would fail in her quest and would be perceived as flaky if she were to return to her old habits. Unlike my friend, in my true Vata nature, I have had too many instances in which I made a quick decision ‘on my feet’ and just as quickly dropped it a few days (and sometimes a few hours) later when I realized that it was not the right choice for me at the time.

I have always thought of change as fascinating and exciting, and perhaps its exciting nature is precisely what makes change exhilarating (I’m purposely avoiding the word ‘scary’). The unknown makes us feel nervous because we understand that in some way, whether small or major, life will never be the same, that we will never be the same. Taking one step into the future means being one step farther away from what we have come to know as home, the comfort zone. I learned many years ago that the quickest way to embrace the journey and enjoy it is by not over-analyzing the situation, the ‘what if’ scenarios. I learned to take a deep breath and leap straight out of my comfort zone and into the unknown, armed only with complete awareness of the present moment, with great hope, and a smile plastered above my chin. And that, dear readers, is how I have been making my way through life, by accepting that the unexpected will happen, that some situations can be terrifying, and that by worrying about how potentially terrifying life can be, we create unnecessary drama and self-inflicted anxiety.

Lest you think that I have become a change management expert of sorts, allow me to assure you that some days, I feel overwhelmed by choices, treating each option as the ultimate decision and second-guessing myself, asking how I would feel if I were to choose Option B instead of Option A, how my fate and the fate of others around me would change. Then, I remind myself to breathe, because nothing is under control, and ask myself once again, ‘Does this choice feel right for me at this time?’

Oh, and remember: It’s okay to change your mind. Going back does not mean we have failed; besides, there is no ‘back’ to return to.


How do you feel about change and when faced with the need to make a decision? Please leave a comment below.

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2 years 4 months ago

Love this post very much! I wish I could shout out to the world…nothing is permanent…I am 57 and know that life changes constantly….and that can be a great thing!!! We will never seek new beginnings if we can not accept the past is behind us. Each day is a fresh start……in 15 days my husband and I are leaving our Queens New York home….We both have lived in this neighborhood pretty much our entire lives….we are moving to Atlanta Georgia….yes, I am nervous, scared but also incredibly excited. My appetite for trying new things and learning is growing more… Read more »