The world didn’t suddenly become so chaotic, unstable, and unpredictable. If it seems that way you were just unaware of what was going on before. The past wasn’t any better, we have just had time to weave what sounds like a coherent narrative from it. The idea of order and normality is a comforting illusion, but it is only an illusion. The reason prayer, mindfulness, meditation, and other contemplative practices bring peace of mind is that they allow you to be in the moment and handle each novel stimulus as it arises. If you seek homeostasis, which is always transient, and are upset by change you will always be upset because change is inevitably constant. Finding peace in the whirlwind of arising chaos is the escape from suffering that the teachers of such spiritual practices speak of.
We have a word for things when they cease changing, growing, renewing, that word is death. The moment you stop developing is the moment you start to die. We spend so much time and energy trying to check off boxes on a checklist that society has told us will lead to happiness, as if checking them off will allow us to reach some plateau of existence where everything is taken care of and our cares will melt away. There is always another box to check, and if there weren’t we would feel a sense of overwhelming despair and lack of purpose, not fulfillment.
I learned these lessons, then forgot them, then remembered what I had known as a young man and have gone through a very lengthy and painful metamorphosis as I try to incorporate them into my everyday life. I spent many years trying to check off boxes on the road to homeostasis, college, career, home ownership, accumulating the material possessions I aspired to own, having a child. Once I had checked all those boxes I realized I was no more satisfied than I had been at the outset. My life stretched out in front of me already preordained, I knew what I would do each week, what I would eat, how I would spend my weekends. I was 100 pounds overweight and gaining, I was overwhelmed by stress, had I continued along that path I have no doubt I would be dead by now. The most frustrating thing about making the decision to change this path was that I had attained a sense of contentment about who I was as a person and my purpose at a young age and I lost it. At some point on my path I decided to start pursuing the list of things society and family told me were necessary even though I knew better. I ignored the inner voice that had guided me towards being the man I knew I was capable of being in favor of chasing homeostasis, normality, and stability when I knew full well and very consciously that to do so was to embrace death, both of the soul and literally.
So now I accept change. I embrace it. Change is life. Life is chaotic, messy, unpredictable, it sprouts through the cracks in the sidewalk and overgrows walls. It finds a way, it evolves, it blooms eternally. It is by embracing change, learning to love it instead of fearing it that we grow spiritually into the beings as God intended. We will enter the Kingdom of God when we accept that God doesn’t want us to fritter away the gift of life he gave us chasing cars, riding lawn mowers, empty relationships, and a bland, predictable, grey, soulless existence. He wants us to revel in the spectacular beauty in every moment of our lives and reflect that beauty in what we put out into the world.
KRS-One. "4th Quarter - Free Throws." I Got Next. 1997
As I passed through the crisis that ended my previous life and began my new one I faced poverty and starvation. For the period of about four months I lived on approximately 300 calories a day, while walking sometimes 20 miles a day. Over those months, I lost over sixty pounds and towards the end I became weaker and weaker. This experience has entirely changed my relationship with food. A half-eaten pizza slice left behind on a restaurant’s patio table became a welcome meal, expiration dates on food from the food bank lost all meaning. Before I was always a foodie, now it’s very hard for me now to turn my nose up at food that isn’t gourmet or expensive. It’s also very hard for me to see food the way it so frequently is by individuals. restaurants and grocery stores. Every time I see perfectly good food thrown away all I can think is that I know for a fact I could find someone who would gladly eat it within ten minutes no matter where I am in the country. So, rather than describe a recipe or dining experience, I would ask the reader to consider this sentiment the next time they’re about to throw some food away or see it being thrown away.
By the end of the day, make a change you have been afraid to make and observe that how you feel before and after making it.
Remember each moment of your time you exchange for money, that in turn you will use to purchase the things that ostensibly will make you happy, you are sacrificing a moment spent with your loved ones or doing something perhaps not profitable that will make the world a better place. The realities of survival at the moment necessitate working to provide for yourself and your family, but carefully consider how much of your life you are devoting to work. Your children will be grown and gone before you know it, your parents will pass away, your friends will grow distant, your dog’s life will pass by in a flash. When you look at your television or your furniture try to imagine how many hours of your life you traded for that object, how it really contributes to the quality of your life, and what you could have done with the same amount of time.
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