I’ve been thinking of how your world turns upside-down when your spouse announces she’s leaving – and does. The analogy finally came to me: it’s like the planes crashing into the towers on September 11.
As human beings, most of us rely on our certain perceptions of reality in our day-to-day goings-on. We adopt routines based on what our on-going expectations are. We put money into a retirement account because we expect to retire someday. We buy a house and work on paying for it because we expect to live there for some time into the future. We accommodate someone else’s wishes and desires because we want to spend our lives with them now and supposedly always.
We don’t normally think about potential disasters in a serious way. We know the potential is there, but don’t really take the possibility into account when we make life plans. We tend to plan according to best-case scenarios. That’s why, when the paradigm shifts, our lives can be shaken to their foundation.
All things are impermanent including ourselves. But when our lives have a certain amount of continuity, we tend to accept the illusion that the present will continue into the foreseeable future. Depending on just how much we are counting on that from day to day will dictate the degree to which changes will be experienced as a negative thing. In Buddhism, that is defined as suffering, and the Buddhist view is that suffering has its roots in unrealistic attachment to the perceptions that our minds create. The solution the Buddha offered, which has come to be known as “enlightenment” or “awakening” and sometimes “nirvana” is to face reality in the present moment.
When we are truly aware and accepting of reality, we are able to accept change for what it is.