“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
The light of one torch begins to flicker, but as soon as one light dies, another is lit, continuing the tradition onto the twenty-fifth year. Yes, I have turned twenty five, so for this Rambling Review I wanted to talk about aging, patience, and letting go.
I know what you’re thinking: twenty five is too young to be thinking about aging. However, for me, thinking about aging is imperative to my existence, not only for my own life, but also for the life of my objects. When we look at our lives, we try to think of who we are not what we are encumbered by, but today I realized all the dead weight I have been carrying. All the times I have moved I have dragged so much with me, so this week I challenge you to do a bit of spring cleaning. When aging we try to keep to things to feel sentimental, and while that is nice to a certain extent, in my opinion these things weigh you down. When I worked in video business I once did a bit of wedding videography. I talked to fellow professionals, and they explained the video was “for Grandma to watch once.” Thinking about this further, I thought about the life and the aging of our objects; how many things do we keep for sentimental reasons or for the hope that we will need them again for some use in the distance future? Even today, when going through old clothing I tried to imagine the last time I had worn them and was hard pressed to find an answer. The undeniable fact in life is that we are always transforming; life is impermanence, and each day is one less we will have on this planet. But life is also like a river: it flows and crashes, a series of moments of crashing waters, moments of slow streams, yet altogether one river.
In life, we make milestones to try to conceptualize our age. For example, at eighteen you become a man, but this is a very superficial number. Only in the Western Culture today is this the case, and even then it’s debatable; you can be drafted, yes, but you cannot legally have a drink of alcohol, so where do you define the line? In certain tribes in South Africa (this applying for even Nelson Mandela), the right of passage into manhood is a ritual circumcision, a month-long process. But is this what defines a man? This line can even go as far as killing another person as was a way of proving yourself as a man (this being the case in many gang cultures and violence-drenched societies). The point I’m trying to make is that as a society, we have certain expectations with aging, whether it is having a family, a large bank account, a car, a home, a success, a dog, a cat, etc. But things are hardly so black and white; one success today might bring a failure tomorrow, and as people, we are never satisfied with ourselves. As time goes on we expect more out of lives, whether it’s the fancier car or the fancier life, we keep yearning for more.
So if life is impermanence, what’s the point? This is one of the many criticisms Eastern Philosophy has. It is seen as a very gloomy philosophy.“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” -Alan Watts. The truth Alan Watts points out here is that no matter what we do, we cannot escape change. No matter what we covet to keep, it is impossible to keep things as they are all the time. The same goes with aging, moments, objects, ideas, and relationships. As we get older, we realize what we lose over the years; friends drift apart, our ideas change, even the objects we once yearned for no long keep our interest. What Alan Watts talks about is embracing that change.We know no matter what we do we cannot stop the world in this moment, so it is about appreciating the moment and the things in it. I am optimistic about the future, but I’m more optimistic about the present; the fact that someone else is reading my writing is a gift. Though I’d like to keep my 23 year old body, that is not possible, and that’s okay, because even though I can’t see it, I’m optimistic of moments to come and present now.
Thanks for reading! See you next Friday!