It is an old cliche that “the only thing that stays the same is change.” It may be old and well-used, but that’s because it’s true. Nothing is ever the same, ask any toddler. A toddler responds to the present moment, in a way, closer to the true. They are overjoyed by the sky, a tree, a rock, an ant and immersed in the wonder of life. As we age, we quickly put names to objects, a necessary and good task, but a task that comes with a cost. As we mentally put objects into their boxes, we stop seeing on some level. In part, this is also due to experience: we “know” what is likely to appear solid and “unchanging” day-to-day. The world then becomes predictable: no more monsters under the bed and no super-villains will take over our city at night. But this security also means there are no superheroes, no magic, no Santa, no surprises. We grow up, and that’s natural.
Ruts Destroy Creativity and Joy
However, we all know someone that seems to have avoided growing up totally, in a good way. They are fresh, creative, enthusiastic, and when you are with them that long dead part of you awakens and you feel that, maybe, just maybe, anything is possible! Seeing possibilities, variations, is the opposite of being in a rut. While being in a rut, which is the daily reality for many adults, the mind is limited and sees each object and person in it’s prescribed box. When a rutted adult sees a tree on the way to work, they see their concept of a tree, something they’ve seen ten thousand times before, something with no possibility of inspiration, nourishing beauty, latent ideas, or possibilities.
See others with freshness
In the same way, the rutted individual does not see his wife. He wakes up and see a stand-in, a cut-out. If he could look in her eyes and greet her with freshness, totally in the present, if he could really see her, he would be giving her a profound gift and she would bloom before him. She would be more likely to greet him with freshness, letting go of past ideas of who he is and what to expect from him. An otherwise healthy, but stale, relationship can be rekindled simply by embracing the truth: everyone is always changing, and has within an infinity of possibilities. To be truly seen, truly heard, is a deep human need. By being present and seeing everyone with fresh eyes, hearing with fresh ears, you can instantly engage with the present in a way that will bring yourself and others renewed inspiration, connection, and joy.
Imagine if your boss saw your this way! Would you wilt, or would you feel inspired, free, and confident?
See Beyond Appearances
While things and people appear to stay the same, much of this appearance is due to our own habit of seeing a reality that conforms to our bias (our preconceived notions of what is happing in the present moment). This can most obviously be seen with the example of the tree. No two trees are alike. And even the same tree changes day-to-day. But taking it step further, a single tree reflects the whole of existence. The sun is in the tree, because with out sun the tree would die. The rain is in the tree, literally, it hydrates it’s leaves and branches. The CO2 from our car is in the tree, as it’s leaves absorb and process our pollutants. The whole of creation is in the tree.
Take a deep breath and look around you. Sometimes we need to make major life changes. Other times, we simply need to stop and reignite a healthy humility and wonder at life, and embrace the present in a new and fresh way. We use language to communicate, but it also pigeonholes reality. Practice mindfulness to see past mental concepts to what is really before you, now, and the joy that is present in what you already have. The cosmos, almost totally uncharted, is above you and nothing is exactly as it seems.