Columns / Discourse / September 26, 2018

There is value in acknowledging change

Attachment is wanting things to be a certain way. Our perspective of the world is flooded with attachment. Thus we label things “good” when they fit what we want them to be, and label things “bad” when they don’t. This creates a label for each sensation we experience. But how different would our world view be if we did not label everything and instead accepted things for as they are? In other words, how different would your actions be if you accepted pain as readily as you accepted pleasure?

One’s ability of acceptance hinges upon one’s awareness of the attachment in their perspective. You are never going to readily accept something if you persist in labeling it first. Notably, a thing only is. The characterization of an experience as “bad” or “good” is not intrinsic; we project these labels.

So how can one become more aware of the attachment in their perspective? One possibility is through the awareness of change in your life. What makes this present moment so vivid is its constant birth from out of the future and its constant decay into the past. This is happening every second, as long as you live. And you exist inside this stream of change, as sensations rise and fall into the forefront of your consciousness. Your present condition is not permanent.

What the acknowledgement of change brings is a transcendence of that deliberation of labels. Focusing one’s efforts on accepting each sensation so selectively, one at a time, wondering — Can I handle this one? Can I accept this one? — misses the forest for the trees. Furthermore, that line of thinking feeds into that cycle of attachment, and wrongfully supposes that one can escape from the sensations they experience. You can try to diminish what you experience through avoidance or apathy, but running from your own sensations is like trying to run from your own legs.  An awareness of flux informs one that it does not matter what specifically you will find in the next moment, because it is not permanent. Thus you should rejoice upon the discovery of what you find, accepting whatever it may be.

If it is fear, tremble before its source. If it is beauty, open your eyes and body to the chance opportunity that beauty revealed itself to you. Whatever it is, it is worthy of being experienced fully, for what it is. It may seem absurd to suggest welcoming what depths of human suffering may bring. But every single possible sensation you can experience is a message to your doorstep that you have come face to face with the breathing beast of reality. The “good” and the “bad” experiences. The message reads: you are alive. If you were not, you would not be experiencing what you are. Perhaps an alternative way to label your sensations without attachment would be to describe what you feel in its strength of presence, as opposed to whether it is “good” or “bad.”

This is where bright lights are lit up inside the body, drying out swamps of fear and dissatisfaction. This is where you may uncover an unquenchable thirst for whatever it is your senses offer you, unbiased by expectation. A thirst which maintains its momentum and insatiability through its adherence to receptiveness and acceptance to all. Receptive to the ants teaming in brown shimmers between cracks in the sidewalk, receptive to the feeling of rain dripping down your nose, receptive to the feeling of being cold and hungry, receptive to the feeling of being warm and drowsy, receptive to new ideas, people, and experiences.

To be clear, this is not to fetishize the afflictions of injustice and oppression. On a personal scale, it would be a concession to those who oppress others to attempt to hide, run from, or ignore the feelings which oppressors inflict. Those feelings are legitimate and worthy of being heard and felt in their expressions, worthy of being mouths to rivers of righteous action and emotion in the pursuit of justice, equality and acceptance.

With a curious and compassionate consideration of the present moment, one may find near limitless room to map the boundaries of one’s world, squeezing into its nooks and crannies which would have otherwise gone uninvestigated, overlooked. One may live freely inside one’s own mind. One may be aware of the way reality is experienced in currents of change, waves that roll and surge upon the shore of your mind.

 

Sam Lisec

Tags:  acceptance change growth value

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