Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!
Embracing impermanence, now that is an oxymoron. How does one embrace that which changes? For me, it is not only doable, but necessary, to complete our reason for being here, in this life. The other night, in a dream, I was at the World Trade Center with a group of adolescents. There was an awareness of soon-to-happen terrorist activity that would bring the towers down. It wasn’t the focus in the dream, merely the backdrop. One young man spoke about his brother’s death, not pausing to mark the obvious grief he held within. I interrupted him, asking him to allow for the full truth of his experience to be expressed. I was asking him to drop his veil of machismo and fully live the truth of that moment. The full completion of that moment was all that mattered. Several moments later, the towers would fall, yet that fact was of no significance. To fully be present, to fully be alive, and to fully complete that moment was all that mattered.
My dream is instructing me on how to embrace impermanence. To be fully present and open to the moment, while fully aware, yet not attached to the fact that in another moment my personal towers will collapse and every thing of this world that I hold dear will vanish, instantly evaporate, disintegrate, resolve, and perhaps become meaningless, as I am thrust forward into new worlds. I know that I am here to master my ability to be fully present and embracing of all I must ultimately relinquish. I know that this is the necessary training to continue my journey in infinity. The shamans view earth as an interrupted journey, yet magical, in the sense that we can so totally be drawn into the poppy field of permanence, completely sold on that illusion. However, this pause in the journey allows us to learn to embrace impermanence.
It takes many lives, really one long groundhog day, to reawaken to the true nature of reality and prepare to embark upon, what the shamans call, the definitive journey. When I reference groundhog day I am referring to the movie, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, where his character must relive the same day, countless times, until he awakens, remembers his lessons, and allows himself to move more deeply into the experience of love. (By the way, we are adding this to the movie category in our Store.)
How many times, how many lives, must we repeat before we get it? What does it mean, “to get it?” In a nutshell, getting it is really about relinquishing the big baby who insists upon the security and safety and soothing comfort of sameness. And so, we feed the big baby the elixir of permanence: structure, order, habit, predictability, solidness, definiteness, and rules. Only the adult can face the inevitable toppling of the towers. Only the adult can complete the moment in full awareness.
The training also requires that we experience deep emotions. My young adolescent in the dream tried to avoid his grief over the loss of his brother. If he does not allow himself to feel and release his grief then he cannot complete the moment and move on. He is sentenced to repeat that moment in countless moments and countless lives, one long groundhog day, until he can live that moment fully, in complete truth. Only then will he be able to resume his interrupted journey, freed of the burden of unlived life.
When we recapitulate, we complete all our groundhog day moments. Those moments are undoubtedly painful and utterly vulnerable, at first. Once we can allow ourselves to fully go there and complete those moments, we are fully released, allowed to go forward into new life, new experiences, with full awareness, and love for the journey and all our traveling companions. Embracing impermanence means fully completing each moment along one’s definitive journey.
Until the moment we meet again,