Resisting a change in reality that is inevitable is a recipe for failure. We can try and deny the new reality, but no matter how much we try to pretend or how much we are in denial the new reality is simply there. Change can happen gradually. In that case, we barely feel the shift in reality and if we do have a premonition that reality is changing, many times we prefer to ignore our feelings and pretend nothing is happening. We convince ourselves the inkling in the back of our mind is nothing more than a momentary lapse. Eventually, there is no avoiding the change, and we find ourselves standing in front of a wall covered with giant letters declaring onset of the new era. In other cases, we find ourselves in the midst of an earthquake, unpredictable and undeniably present.
It is as if we are standing in the middle of the field, when sunny days suddenly turn into a storm. We are standing in place and resisting, but we are soaked to the bone by the big raindrops. We are drenched. We can continue to stand and refuse to accept the rain and the winds, or we can choose a different path. We need the courage to be honest with ourselves. More than anything we need an open heart and mind. We must be ready to move forward and accept the shift in our reality.
We are all attracted to familiar places, to what we know. We know the smell. We know the path. Our habitual dynamics are already set, engrained deep in our psyche. On a superficial level, it feels like less work and less risk to stick to the familiar and avoid change. Similar to practicing a complex yoga sequence, the first time through it is extremely challenging, but when we repeat the sequence on the other side of our body, we already have expectations. We know what to predict. We are aware what part of our body we will need to engage to make the transitions and how to prepare ourselves how to complete the sequence. Venturing into the unknown poses challenges and uncertainties that can deter us from moving down the right track.
If we repeat an action there is a high probability we will get the same result. It is both logical and the law of karma. A central tenet of Buddhism is, however, that impermanence is the inevitable essence of reality. Things change, whether we like it or not. As much as we want to stay in our comfort zone, reality will change, and our comfort zone will move or no longer exist.
The inevitability of impermanence, of fundamental shifts in our reality begs the question - how do we work change to turn change into an opportunity as opposed to an enemy. The more we resist inevitable change, the more scared we become, and the more prone to break we become. It can be very scary when we move knowingly towards the unknown. In truth, we are constantly moving in the direction of the unknown without acknowledging the fact, but the future is always an unknown and we feel it in every bone in our body. We are alert to the risks around every corner. Sometime life feels that there is a tiger stalking quietly in the field. We don’t see it but we feel its presence.
As foreboding as change can be, it offers us an unlimited opportunity to make a positive shift, to grow, and to learn so much about ourselves. Change can be the catalyst that enables us to begin a new future, one that we have been dreaming of. Instead of standing in the field in the pouring rain, we walk and continue until we find ourselves in a new field where the sun is shining. We may need to cross a desert or even an entire continent. Throughout the travails of the journey, however, we are building new skills. We strengthen our muscles. We learn to taste and smell new things to survive. We build confidence. We learn to trust ourselves.
It is a universal need, whether as an adult or a child, to befriend changes. It is relevant to the student who needs to find a new group of friends for a new school year or to an adult who needs to find a new career or path in life, or in the extreme case, to start all over again.