January 2013 Graduate Meeting
That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment. We don't have to be mystics or physicists to know this. Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact. It means that life isn't always going to go our way. It means there's loss as well as gain. And we don't like that.
Once I was changing jobs and houses at the same time. I felt insecure, uncertain, and groundless. Hoping that he would say something that would help me work with these changes, I complained to Trungpa Rinpoche about having trouble with transitions. He looked at me sort of blankly and said, "We are always in transition." Then he said, "If you can just relax with that, you'll have no problem."
- from The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
- Steve Jobs (2005 Stanford University commencement address)
Consider this event. Amateur Night at the Harlem Opera House. A skinny, awkward sixteen year old goes fearfully on-stage. She is announced to the crowd: "The next contestant is a young lady named Ella Fitzgerald....Miss Fitzgerald here is gonna dance for us.... Hold it, hold it. Now what's your problem, honey?.... Correction, folks. Miss Fitzgerald has changed her mind. She's not gonna dance, she's gonna sing...." That night, Ella Fitzgerald gave three encores and won first prize. However, "she had meant to dance."
- from The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling by James Hillman