Everything and everyone are temporary. Some things are temporary longer, but never permanent. The oldest thing you can think of will someday be as gone and forgotten as tomorrow’s Top 40. Is this too deep for a Sunday morning? I apologize. I’m in a melancholy mood.
How, you ask, is this woebegone thinking going to dig me out of the doldrums? When I mention my thoughts on this out loud, at least one person will eventually tell me I’m depressing. I understand. Life is art. Your perspective depends on where you are standing. Lack of permanence is comforting or unnerving depending on your perspective.
Abraham Lincoln, in an address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, once said,
“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”
Sometimes we control how long something will be temporary. We can take action; re-cut a bad haircut, remove a tattoo. We can take a break or even quit a job or relationship. I prefer not to stay in an unacceptable situation if it shows no sign of change. I left an employer over a decade ago, because I needed different hours. I asked if there was any way to change my shift, and they said no. It was a fine place to work, but it just didn’t fit my family needs. Several people mentioned how they should leave too, for various reasons, but mostly because they hated it there.
Upon handing in my two-week notice, a couple of managers approached me. They wanted me to stay. They would have offered me different hours. They would have trained me in different areas. They really had high hopes for me. Would I consider staying? “Sorry,” I said. “I already have another job.” Perhaps if they had known I was so very temporary, they have valued me more from the onset.
When I go back to that place, I still see a couple of those people who said they wanted to leave. If you wait for change to fall in your lap, you might have to wait a long time. After a while you forget you have a choice. Time flies when you’re having fun, but disappears forever when you’re not.
When things are really bad, I mean really bad, caring friends will ask, “Are you okay?” To which I reply, “I’m fine.” When they ask if I’m sure, I say, “What else am I going to be?” I suppose the obvious answer to that is “not fine.” But as long as I’m conscious and breathing, I make the choice to be fine. The rest is temporary.
In my car this morning, Alanis Morissette was singing through the stereo.
I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
She sings of the yin and yang of life. The fact that I gravitate toward the yang when the yin of life weighs me down is a healthy thing. I write. I walk. I get out of the house. I look for beauty in the world. I find beauty within myself. I know both light and dark are temporary, and find delight and grief in their brevity.
So, yeah. I’m a little introspective and quiet this morning. And a little melancholy.
And this too shall pass.
Peace . . .