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Impermanence: Life Is Beautiful Because It Nothing Lasts Forever.

The truth is that nothing last forever. From this truth comes the motivation to be present in the moment. It is the finite nature of life, the limitedness of time and space in this physical life, that inspires us to live with our greatest intentions and to become the best version of our selves at each stage. The impermanence of this life it what drives us to innovate, to love, and to create. The more we practice it the more we fortify our ability to adapt to the ever changing tides of life.

Lima, Travel
Chaclacayo, Lima, Peru. Sept 12, 2023

A Note

August 14, 2022


Hi Everyone,


In this post, I share with you my thoughts on the importance of taking time to think about impermanence. This piece is for the reader who is interested in thinking deeper about how, when, and with whom we are investing, spending, or wasting our time. I believe that through the examination of the finite nature of physical life we can introduce seeds of new perspectives that blossom into deeper relationships, more purpose, and a stronger desire to outgrow the insecurities or fear that hold us back from becoming the best versions of ourselves.


I am writing this post in a mental state of transition as I am settling into my new life here in Peru for the next 27 months. After one month here, I can say with confidence that I am in a constant state of trying to make peace with choosing the benefits to pursue my dreams of living abroad and working in the international development space at the cost of leaving my community, financial stability, and blossoming relationships with people I deeply care about (and of course my dog). Yet, at the ripe age of 29, here I am. I’ve made the decision to accept the impermanent nature of life by joining the Peace Corps as a community health volunteer in hopes that the experience brings me closer to living a life of purpose. I am still adjusting to all of the changes, but I know I am well prepared and trained for this new chapter of life.


I hope that you will find something in these words that encourages you to follow your dreams, and to be always motivated by the finite nature of time to fulfill their purpose.


Mackenzie


Investing In The Practice Of Impermanence

Brings Our Purpose To Life


Because I won't always be alive, I invest a good bit of my time into growing plants like the Monstera featured below. This luscious green goddess of a plant is the product of a propagation. What was once a cutting of a leaf, has now blossomed into the brilliant spectacle of life. The abundance that can be seen sprawling in this photo of the Monstera and I is a masterpiece of my life. This photo also captures the last tender moments of me as this plant's parent.


As I got ready to depart for the Peace Corps, a part of the process was to get rid of almost all of my material possessions. The most important lesson that kept coming up for me was the importance of practicing impermanence. So I leaned into the deconstruction of my life by making peace with letting go of all the things that no longer serve my path to purpose.


Letting go of my plants was one of the toughest parts. But, I believe that being a part of the development of another living organism (also known as being “plant parent'') shed light on the true ideas of what it means to live a good life. The relationships I cultivated with my plants taught me about patients, beauty, and responsibilities of daily life. In exchange, I made sure they got great sun, stayed watered, and continued to thrive with tender love and care. The investment we rendered to each other is more than a transaction. It is an exchange of simple experiences that humbled my human ego and concurrently fed the lifeblood of the planet.

Boston, MA. June 27, 2022

Giving up my plants in order to gain this new experience of being here in Peru wasn’t easy. These plants were my friends, my muse, and often my inspiration to become a writer. Yet, the release of these creatures exemplified to me that attachment is typically driven by the fear of change. Saying goodbye to them highlighted that the act of physically releasing possession of things, ideas, and people can psychologically represent an acknowledgement that we are no longer holding onto the person that those things symbolize. Additionally, this small bit of practicing impermanence brought a critical point of reflection on the importance of consciously having gratitude for the growth and time we share with the things and people we love while we still have it.




My view of investing my time in other people, novel experiences, and being a student of philosophy is equal to the one I shared about my relationship with plants. The only difference is that the plants teach me about the neatly defined micro-mechanics of life. Whereas people, adventures, and learning build on the foundations of micro-mechanics of life to help me thrive in the world of the abstract, the gray, the undefined, or what I like to call the “macro-mechanics” of life. I invest in the macro-mechanics of life with the understanding that purposeful investment in other people, adventures, and learning yield creations that will likely live far beyond my time on this earth. In essence, the dynamics of a relationship with others, things, or experiences require me to accept or force me to be more aware of the impermanence of my life, and thus catalyze states of creativity. And as someone once told me, "creativity fights the ephemerality of existence."


In other words, the more time I invest in relationships, exploring the world, or finding out more about who I am, the more apparent the finite nature of life becomes, and the more I desire to contribute to the betterment of myself, my family, and the planet. The more I realize that the threat of constant change until an inevitable death is only terrifying if I let it consume me. I liberate myself from this narrow minded thinking with mindful connections and intentional experiences that enable me to step outside of the consuming feeling of demise. It is with this realization that I find practicing impermanence paramount for teaching me the deepest and most illuminating truths about the importance of being present those we are sharing time and space with in this moment. Nothing else matters.


The Roots of Impermanence


Both ancient Eastern and Western philosophies attempt to sum up the existential problem of change. Buddhist thought defines impermanence as the first state of being (anicca (Pāli) or anitya (Sanskrit), and the ancient Greeks understood human life to be “panta rhei” or “everything in flow.” While the details of these two philosophical arguments differ in many ways, it is important to highlight that their conclusions about the experience of this physical life is that nothing lasts forever- and everything is in a constant state of change. The bittersweet nature of being a human with an ego is that we are so sensitive to change that we believe we can make it bend to our will. To our dismay, I think most all of us realize that this is not how life really works.


I continue to find that the more I operate from the understanding of impermanence the more I grow to appreciate the current moment. Sometimes, it can seem too sad or too scary to think about the ending of things or the feelings that accompany great change. Yet, I see a brilliant opportunity in the uncertainty of these moments to transform the negative feelings around endings and change into more positive, inspiring, and uplifting moments by accepting the impermanent nature of existence. The idea of leading our lives with a lens of impermanence is that we are consistently self initiating our desire to be the best version we can be in the moment we are existing in, and that is all we can ask from ourselves.


Working within the parameters of acceptance for what I can’t control helps me step into the practice of embracing the impermanence of life instead of running away from it. I see through this experience of shifting my entire reality from Boston to rural Peru that it is all too easy to get stuck in the grieving cycle of past moments that we once thought defined us. Getting caught up in the nostalgia of what was and the thoughts of what could be puts me in a disposition to live my life to the fullest because I am either living in the past or too far in the future. When in reality, I should be focused on the right now because that is the only time-space continuum I can develop into the life I desire.


I don’t mean to dismiss the importance of memories, nostalgia, or goals and hope for the future. Rather, what I am trying to point out is that when we trick ourselves into ignoring the finiteness of our lives we tend to miss the richness of being alive in the current moment. The art of life is to embrace the ephemerality of existence. The science of life is putting into place a practice of impermanence that brings gratitude, intentionality, and well-being to the existence of ourselves in this moment.


Finding Peace with Impermanence


In closing, I chose to make my first post since entering the Peace Corps about impermanence because I am constantly reminded on this journey of how easy it can be to think we have unlimited opportunities, infinite time with people we love, and endless chances to achieve our dreams. But that is not true, and being far from the comfort of abundance and security at home for an extended amount of time I am keenly aware that I am not able to be present in the lives and experiences of those I miss deeply. But, I must remember that achieving my dreams, living my purpose, and finding prosperity in life comes by living with the understanding that life ends, and the only moment I have to make it happen is this one.


I hope that these words bring some sense of comfort in the fact that achieving our dreams are not comfortable. Becoming the person you desire will always come with sacrifice, and more importantly it will always come with realizing that time in this physical being will end one day. Don't let that capture you, instead let it captivate you. Let the understanding of impermanence be a liberating philosophy that motivates you to be the best version of yourself in this moment.





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