A few days ago I posted an entry entitled: Things Take Time. This entry may seem to counter that post but really it’s a matter of the This AND That teaching on non-duality. It recently occurred to me that things do take time AND things can change quickly too.
Where it is most evident to me that things can change quickly is in my daily reading of local and world news. And while on a bigger picture scale (Buddhist psychology would call it the ultimate dimension) even the things that are seemingly changing quickly involve a compilation of choices, experiences, and time lines playing out, on a smaller localized level (the historical dimension) life can be altered dramatically in the blink of an eye.
Whenever I read about a shooting or highway fatality I am briefly transported to the scene imagining, on some very miniscule level, what it must be like to have your whole world suddenly change. How are those left behind feeling? How is the community impacted? What thoughts, if any, came up in the individuals’ minds who’s lives would soon be over?
Tragedies are not new. They will always be a part of life and they happen everyday. This is not to become desensitized or unaffected by them but to widen our perspective. What resonates with me in the reading of these tragic events is that those who lose their lives had no idea it would be their last day breathing and functioning in their body – they had no idea they would never again see their loved ones or watch a sunset or do something they loved doing.
A sudden, unexpected death leaves much scarring behind in its wake for the loved ones and communities involved. Many many people have gone through such tragedies. With mindfulness and the practice of deep breathing and deep looking I am given the opportunity to both feel sorrow and loss when reading these types of news stories AND feel overwhelmingly grateful for this most precious and fleeting moment. I am rendered useless to the service of others when I am embittered and swept away by the suffering of the world (which used to be the case for many long years for me). It was only when I began to use my practice to engage fully with the suffering of others AND hold my reverence for life at the same time that I was able to start the process of walking the middle path of embracing with balance.
I am reminded everyday of the possibility that things can change quickly. I am reminded of the vastness of human potential and capabilities. I am reminded that fellow human beings in my wider global community are suffering great loss and heartache. And in honor and deep respect of those struggling, and who’s lives have been so swiftly taken, I practice to remember and appreciate that I am alive and breathing and how wonderful it is that I have this one more chance to live today. Let us remember. Let us all remember. This moment, right now, is all we know we have for sure.