Everything Flows

Once again another year begins and we may find ourselves reflecting on the events of our lives, and the world around us, over the past twelve months. A of lot things can happen in a year; when I began reflecting on my own life over the past year I discovered: there have been some friends getting married; others falling in love; others experiencing broken hearts; babies have been born; friends have died; other friends have started new jobs; some have lost their job; some friends have become sick; others continue to have good health; several people I know have moved home.

What do all these events have in common? They share the fact that all things are impermanent and subject to change and flux. I recently watched again the Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home on Bob Dylan. There is a wonderful moment that really moved me when Bob Dylan comments on the view that his music changed and evolved and did not stay fixed. He says

“An artist has got to be careful never really to arrive at a place where he thinks he’s ‘at’ somewhere. You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming, you know? And as long as you can stay in that realm you’ll sort of be all right.”

This view of life and the nature of self that Dylan states is, I believe, a very helpful one to hold and is found at the heart of the teachings of Buddhism. Simply stated, nothing in the world around us or ourselves is fixed or solid; there are no things, just process and flux. So as we begin a new year, we may find it helpful to reflect on our ability to change. We don’t have to be Bob Dylan or a famous celebrity to live a creative life and make changes that we can imagine possible. So maybe in this coming year we could try holding lightly to any fixed ideas we may have about ourselves and those around us? We could embrace change and new ways of being, no matter how large or small, and maybe we will experience ourselves in a new way.

‘Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed… Cool things become warm, the warm grows cool; the moist dries, the parched becomes moist… It is in changing that things find repose.’ — Heraclitus