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Impermanence Goes Viral

Congratulations! We made it through a stretch of several days that saw our lives change faster than the weather in Minnesota. The speed at which we saw the sports world go dark, schools and large scale events cancel, and the stock market plummet was stomach churning.

Experts say our lives will be in lockdown in the coming days and weeks as we fight an unseen foe; a virus that is ten times deadlier than the flu. It’s likely your favorite restaurant or bar will close for awhile. We won’t gather as we did, pre-Covid-19, in order to keep its spread at bay. That lovely spring break trip you were excited to go on? Sorry. You’re staying at home. (If you’re smart.) Even though the media has been doing stories of the havoc caused overseas by Covid-19 since January, didn’t it all seem to change in an instant?

Friends, this is a cosmic lesson in impermanence. 

We’re living this lesson in real time and for those who’ve not paid attention until now, it’s a face-smacker. It’s damned uncomfortable isn’t it? As much as we crave safety, safety is an illusion. For that matter, control is an illusion too. So what are we to do?

I’m thinking of all the people I’ve interviewed for MPR News and End in Mind stories who’ve taught me about impermanence. It takes awhile, but coming to grips with the unchangeable fact that everything changes and everything is fleeting, is a healthy way to live.

I’ll admit I had a really hard time with the concept of impermanence. I still do. I talked about this with my late friend Michael Bischoff one day on the banks of the Mississippi River. We were looking at giant, puffy white clouds as they drifted past noting that they, like us, are transient. They change, given the atmosphere. So do we, given our circumstances. Nothing is forever and that is ok.

My friend knew that when we give up the illusion that life has to be a certain way and open ourselves up to what is and adjust, even when it’s uncomfortable, beauty, meaning and growth is always possible.

How have you dealt with impermanence in your life? What have you learned? Please share!





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