A year ago when I wrote this blog post about “shapes” we weren’t in a global pandemic, we hadn’t spent the last seven months figuring out how to re-prioritize our lives in the face of that pandemic, and we weren’t staring down the barrel of another possible cultural shut down due to the growing infection rates across the country.
Overall, life seemed, dare I say, simpler. News flash: it wasn’t.
As I read through that older post from only one year ago, I couldn’t help shake the feeling that things are getting worse. But the reality is, things are always either getting worse or getting better. Wait, how is that possible? Well, it’s not, while at the same time it is.
One of the foundational philosophies in Buddhism is that all things are impermanent. Life is but a function of change and in every moment, that change defines our relationship with our reality. That relationship drives our emotional response and that emotional response determines our inner narrative. Regardless of what we tell ourselves about how we feel about what we are experiencing from the world around us, the world is always changing. So whether we decide to see that change as good, bad, happy, sad, scary, or exciting is up to us. It’s also possible to see it as something completely different.
The shape of the future is unknown. In fact, like constantly flowing water, it’s not even a shape. But if we want to give it some kind of tangible phenomenological form, then I guess I would suggest choosing a shape of the future that looks something like what Eddie Vedder expresses in this short video clip from the Howard Stern Show.
Eddie Vedder makes a comment at one point in the video about how he doesn’t see the music as notes or chords, but rather as shapes. And sometimes those shapes show up as some of the best music ever created, sitting on his shoulder waiting for him to deliver it to the rest of us.
Like other artists who I have heard speak about their process, his talent is not in creating something great, but rather in being willing to see those things that the rest of us choose not to see in the shapes around us.
So I offered myself a challenge. As I peer into the future and see what I think is another emotionally draining mountain of uncertainty looming in our path, I see shapes of fear, anger, and exhaustion waiting for us as we make our way up the path. But why can’t I choose to be curious about what the future holds? Why do I have to be so certain that I see a mountain? What if I’m actually flying blind and I’m actually looking at something completely different?
Life will come in all shapes and sizes. Let go of what you think you think you see and see if you can just let yourself fall forward into a future that will be forever changing. I know it scares me but, hey, we got each others’ backs, right?
See you in the box.