"New Every Morning"
Yesterday I was talking with someone I hadn’t seen in a few months and I asked how he was doing. For some reason his response stuck with me: “Oh, you know, same old same old.” People say this to one another all the time. They tell each other that nothing has changed in their lives and this often implies that nothing exciting has happened and that their same old lives are basically boring.
I guess that I was particularly struck by my friend’s response yesterday because it occurred to me that what he was saying to me was simply not true. Nothing and no one ever stays the same - there is no such phenomenon as same old same old.
The Buddha taught:
Everything is impermanent
When one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.
Today’s contemporary scientists affirm the truth of this ancient wisdom. They tell us that from the tiniest little quark to the massive array of multiple universes, everything and everyone is a swirling mass of energy that is dynamically and constantly changing – always in a process of becoming something else.
As my friend and I spoke yesterday we were in essence very different people form the ones who had encountered one another a few months earlier, the very world in which we stood, the universe, the cosmos had become something new.
While my friend yesterday looked and sounded somewhat similar to the way he was before, we had both changed. Our bodies had become somewhat different. Old cells had died away and new cells had grown. Our minds had also become something different. Everything that happened in our lives since we last met had made us different - the people we met over the past months, the emails we read, the movies we saw, the political rhetoric we heard. Each and every day we became somewhat different people. There is no such thing as same old same old,
Buddhist nun and teacher, Pema Chodron, puts it this way:
That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeing and impermanent
is the first mark of existence.
Everything is in process,
every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings and buildings,
the animate and the inanimate –
always changing, moment to moment.
It seems to me that we would rather see everything as permanent and fixed because somehow this makes us believe we have more control over our lives - our ego tricks us in to believing the myth of permanence. If our lives are something like a machine with parts, then all we need do is push some buttons and manipulate the parts and the world will move along according to our own planned agenda. But if everything and everyone is a process of ongoing dynamic change we are forced to hand over our rigid control and instead embrace the world as it comes to us- new every morning.
The Buddha teaches that a recognition of impermanence turns us away from suffering - I think this is very true. A recognition of impermanence helps me to focus on each and every moment, realizing that what was no longer is and what will be has not yet come. So all I can do is look at the surprises of every single moment of every single day in a world that never stays the same. Paying attention to the surprises of every new moment is the source of great joy.
Lots of people got up on this Monday morning and went off to their same old same old Monday morning routine in their “probably boring” everyday lives. But when we realize that nothing, absolutely nothing stays the same, we are always invited to begin again. When we embrace the concept that there is no such thing as same old same old we can constantly look at the world with fresh new eyes. So, of course, a recognition of impermanence turns us away from suffering.
I wonder what today will bring?