“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through.” (Aboriginal Proverb)
“Nothing is permanent in this world—not even our troubles.” (Charlie Chaplin)
Those two quotes could each by themselves be the subject of a complete post here; however when you concatenate them and see the common theme, it makes for a powerful thought. The Aboriginal proverb establishes the impermanence of our lives and the Chaplin quote takes that theme down to the level of our everyday lives.
The Aboriginal proverb may help us understand that life is a little like a visit to Disney Land. Did you make that visit, or something like, that when you were a kid? Do you remember it? In your memories was there stress? Were there concerns about your job, about how to pay the bills, about what people thought of you? Did you lay awake the night before concerned about a confrontational experience that awaits you the next day; or was your sleepless night caused by thoughts of all of the things that you hope to do the next day – caused by excitement and not by fear? How can you get back to that place?
And the Chaplin quote seems to build upon the thought of the impermanence of life by extending it to the transient nature of our “problems” in life. We all tend to fixate on what is just ahead of us – the current crisis that life has thrown our way – our “troubles” as Chaplin put it. As I get older, I have noticed that I somehow have survived the many life crises that I was sure at the time represented the end of life as I knew it. I woke up the next day. I was still alive and the world had gone on about its business. Maybe I had suffered a loss. Maybe I had lost a friend. Maybe the love that I thought I had for someone had not worked out as I had hoped. But, still; I was alive and able to go on. Nothing, it turned out, was permanent in this world; a world in which I’m a visitor, just passing through.
I’ve written a few times here about being able to roll with the punches that life throws at us. The thoughts that are contained in the two quotes today really establish the base from which you can have an attitude about life that allows that to happen. If you begin with the premise that everything in life (including life itself) is impermanent, that establishes a perspective that helps you to let go of things that might have happened and even of people whose paths may have crossed yours. Some people are harder than others to let go of; especially if you shared your life with them for a significant period of time – parents, wives, children and relatives come to mind. But even those relationships are impermanent, because they, like us, are just visitors here, too.
As a person just passing through you have choices to make about how you conduct yourself. You can be like the idiot who was driving by and threw their fast food bag out their window and onto your lawn – uncaring, unthinking – an idiot. Or, you can be responsible and properly conduct your life in a manner that will not label you as an idiot. You may be just passing through, but you needn’t leave a trail of litter and garbage in your wake. Some people do that by discarding old friends in favor of new friends as they go through life, sometimes tossing the old friends out the window as they drive away. Some even discard wives and children as if they were expendable bags of garbage. These are not people that I would choose to befriend. Would you?
As a visitor here you might also take the attitude that you are going to explore and learn as much as you can about the place that you are visiting, just as you might about a foreign country that you visit. That means going places and doing things, but most of all it means meeting people. It means embracing diversity, because you can learn something new or see things from a different point of view. It means reserving judgement and not pre-judging, based upon things like looks. It means keeping an open mind and judging people on their actions and not some pre-conceived stereotype. Remember that they are visitors, too; and they may be just as wary of meeting you as you are about meeting them.
As you spend your time visiting here, you’ll undoubtedly hit some rough times, have some hardships, suffer some setbacks or losses; just remember that those things are impermanent, too. There will be a tomorrow and most likely you’ll be there, with those troubles behind you, if you are willing to leave them where they belong – in your past – and move ahead. Use your time visiting here wisely, not living in the past but always looking to the future – a new day, new friends, new opportunities, and new experiences.
Have a great day and rest of your week, fellow traveler.