As Fall recedes and winter starts to show it's true colours it is easy to see impermanence. Nature shows us all the time that change is inevitable. However, most of us are in denial about change. We act surprised when the snow arrives like we weren't expecting it. That is what I love about being Canadian, the amnesia. We always act surprised by the weather at this time of year. I suppose it is a touch of amnesia sprinkled with denial. It makes us hardy, or maybe it is the bone chilling winds that do that.
In any event, we could look to nature for some guidance on this impermanence thing. The squirrels store their nuts at this time of year. The trees just drop their leaves like it is perfectly normal which it is of course. It is only us silly humans that think we can prevent things from changing. For most of us change feels like a threat. We like things the way they are even if they are uncomfortable. Uncomfortable can at least be familiar. We like it when things are familiar.
Like it or not life changes like the seasons. Sometimes these are little changes that we don't seem to notice and so don't resist but equally likely are big changes. Big changes that can throw us off are the loss of a loved one, a job, an illness, financial instability. Even the closing of our favorite restaurant can wreck our day.
So how do we cope in the face of the reality of change? First of all we need to note that we are resisting. Often we fight change and resistance is a clear indicator that we are doing that. Resistance only prolongs the discomfort. It has no power to stop the inevitable. A lot of suffering is caused by refusing to accept what is happening and wishing it was different.
What we also have to learn to do is expand instead of contract. In other words, when life throws us a change curve ball instead of recoiling we need to note the resistance and find a way to expand. That is the biggest challenge, to open instead of close, expand instead of recoil. What does expanding mean? Well when we are faced with change we note the resistance to it then we try to open up and face it and our fear of it. We can think of this as leaning into the discomfort rather then leaning away from it.
As Pema Chodron says, "Wetness is the nature of water; heat is the nature of fire and impermanence is the nature of being human."