As I’ve been making my way through the ridiculous 43 Eternal Truths, on the verge of giving up and moving on to something else, several kind people have suggested asking readers to write in with their thoughts on a given topic. So let’s try that and see what happens!*
Eternal Truth #5 is: “Nothing lasts.” One thing I’ve learned about these stupid “truths” is that it’s best not to approach them head-on; that makes you angry and doesn’t leave room for much creativity. So, for example, it’s not a good idea to ask yourself, “Is that true?” because the answer will always be, “Yes and no,” and then there is nothing else to say.
So here are some things I’m curious about, and would love to hear your thoughts on:
- It is useful to live as though nothing lasts?
- What does “lasts” even mean? Endures? Goes on forever?
- What makes “nothing lasts” worth stating as an “eternal truth?” Why does it matter?
- Do you have any examples of things that last?
- Do you have examples of things that you wish would “last?”
So feel free to comment or to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you don’t want your comments to be public and I will post them without your name. Also, if you are photographically inclined, send me some pictures and let me know how they relate to this topic.
*[Please write in. I’ll be really embarrassed if you don’t. And for everyone who has wanted to make a comment but doesn’t because you’re self-conscious and think you don’t have anything worthwhile to say, trust me when I tell you that (1) you do, (2) one of the main reasons people blog is because they are comment hogs, so you are doing me a favor by commenting, and, more seriously, (3) the most rewarding and fun part of writing is connection and conversation, and feeling like you are part of something. That includes you. Always.
Just sounds like a downer of a way to state one of the mysteries: “She changes everything she touches and everything she touches changes.” Or, “the one thing you can rely on is that everything changes.” Or, “this too shall pass.” The wording is oddly negative, but that may stimulate more real contemplation and interaction with the truth as it will rile a soul up.
A comment from my friend Jennifer:
“As far as this post I would like to say that I do believe ‘nothing lasts forever’ to be an eternal truth. I also believe that believing that has helped me in my life. The first thing that comes to mind is running a marathon – I remember thinking this while running and it helped me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and endure the pain of running 26.2 miles!! It also helped me to get through grad school and it is helping me get through this 12 hour shift I am working. I think it is an important lesson to learn.
Losing my dad helped me realize that we all need to appreciate every moment we have with our loved ones because, like it or not, those times will not last forever.”
I’ve been thinking about this one so much. Just blogged about it too in the context of how I would have really, really liked the good feelings of my 10-day meditation retreat to continue on after I got home, but then I was slammed right back into reality the second I put the key in the front door. Nothing lasts, and that stinks. BUT, it’s also amazing to figure out how to live in acceptance of that truth. Somehow, the pressure comes off. I think there’s some freedom in that place of “There we have it. Everything changes. So let’s move on to the next thing.”
From a thoughtful reader:
“The only negative aspect of “nothing lasts” that I want to look at today is my coffee pot and the way in which things are made today (cheap).
The important things to me last. My marriage has lasted 6 years and 10 months. My relationship with my son has lasted 26 years.
My parents have lasted 76 years.
Nothing lasts forever, so take care of what you have while you have it.”
From another thoughtful reader:
“Yes I think that there some value in living as though nothing lasts. It there that we find the appreciation for the Joys and pains in our lives, the pain makes us appreciate the joy because we know that that the pain won’t last, the joy makes us understand the pain and gives us the opportunity to live in the moment because the joy does not last. I believe that life is about balance and if one thing lasts, endures or goes on forever where is the balance and appreciation. If you were joyous all the time could you handle a crisis or if you were in crisis mode all the time would you be able to tell when you had joy? I guess in just knowing that everything has a beginning, middle and an end, gives me the strength to endure the waves of life.
The eternal truth is that we will soon past away, what are you going to do with the time you have now and it matters. When you close your eyes for the last time do want to have list of things you wished you could’ve done, but there will be time you told yourself, or do you want know that given the time you had you have made the best of it. You loved and was loved in returned whether it was for two minutes or 60 years. You cried until the tears ran out. You laughed until you cried or until your side hurt. You were mad enough to fight and then you weren’t. Life has an expiration date and some people know when there it is up, however if we adopted the philosophy that nothing last, maybe that might make us bolder in our approach to living because good or bad nothing last.
The only example I have of sometime lasting is time, the rotation of the earth and love. Whether time was recorded the same it still pasted, the day eventually become the night when the earth turned and love endured.
I wouldn’t like anything to last, that would take the joy of the moment from it for me. I would not appreciate or understand the situation if I knew that it was the same day after day.”
“Things I wish would last:
A clean house ( especially a clean mopped floor)
A back rub ( at least until I fell asleep)
70 degree weather
Quiet early morning with my cup of tea
Food: it tends to disappear with teenage boys
A hair cut and color
Your blog ( I’ve really enjoyed it!)”
Upon contemplation I have two different ways to look at this eternal truth…………………….
A) Will this matter in a minute, in an hour, tomorrow, next month, next year???????
I use this technique quite frequently to make myself believe that NOTHING lasts forever and everything is going to be ok!
B) On the other hand….. I believe that in one’s lifetime memories DO LAST! These memories, both good and bad have shaped who I am and what I will become. I treasure every happy memory that I can still retrieve :))) I continue to work on learning some type of lesson from the bad memories!
And so the journey continues……. May my good memories far outnumber the bad! But more importantly, may the bad memories somehow show me how to be a better person :))))
Finally, may God allow me to continue to have memories until my time is through :))))
To me, “nothing lasts” doesn’t necessarily mean something negative. While I am definitely a person who loves things to stay static (if the situation is benefitting me!), ultimately I know that change is inevitable and basically good. We don’t live in a vacuum … we can’t freeze time, and really would we really want to. I am learning this week that while I feel so many emotions with the graduation of Brennen — including sadness — his growing and maturing is really where I want him to be. There is a part of me that wants to hold him and be his “number one” forever, but I know that he is where he needs to be as a healthy individual.
More thought-filled and thought-provoking sentiments from a reader:
“Thanks for the encouragement to give this a try. My version of this eternal truth is “expect change”. I believe this to be true and attempt to
live this way as it reminds me of the limits to my sense of “control” – as in – I don’t really have much. The only control I have is over myself and
the choices I make moment by moment. This truth encourages me to live thoughtfully and to be present. This is difficult as I tend to be spacey
and live in my head often wondering if I am pleasing others or doing things”right”.
By expecting change I enjoy the moment and can more easily allow things to pass (e.g., the houses we have lived in, relationships, possessions, the
cute thing my son just did) knowing this is the rhythm of the world.
Things I can think of that last for me are emotions. Joy for example – the pleasure of the perfect pastry, cup of coffee and talking with a
friend. They all just come from changing directions/sources. One exception may be my depression as I think out loud (in email). It seems to stay stuck deep in the center of me. It’s intensity timing or triggers change. I guess in the end it is no different from the other emotions. I
am wondering if my emotions are tied somehow to my spirit which is another part of me that I think of as eternal.”
“Life’s a twinkling, that’s for certain, but it’s such a fine thing ….”
Oh how I LOVE that song!!! (“A Gathering of Spirits,” Carrie Newcomer) Someone called her a “prairie mystic” in a review of one of her CDs and that’s so right (except she’s also just an Indiana girl with a kick-ass voice, incredible guitar-playing ability, and relentless work ethic, so she’s both mystical AND earthy). Thank you!
This too shall pass is a truism, whether it is applied to a “good” situation or a “challenging” situation. This comes to me as I prepare for a 500-mile week long bike ride that Kevin and I have taken annually for more than 7 years. What ever it is that is glorious or intolerable will pass. So I try to appreciate the glorious while it is there: the blue blue of the sky; the aroma a fresh cut grass; the subsiding of traffic at midmorning — all perhaps simultaneous with the fierce headwind and my sore ass, which believe it or not, will also pass. (How that works, that one’s ass gets less sore as the day goes on…as the week goes on…is a mystery to me, but true none the less.)
And if I get overwhelmed, and there is too much hardship and I can’t see the glory, I get a hotel room and wait til tomorrow.
Interesting discussion, Leslie. We seem to see emotions quite differently. Of all the transience of the world, in my experience, emotions may be the most ephemeral. It is their nature to arise, visit for awhile, and then disappear — replaced by our reaction to whatever catches our attention next.
One thing I can guarantee you is that your depressive core IS NOT the unchanging eternal within you.
Each of us may all tend to think about the world and events in a particular way (based on history, goals, concerns, values, needs, preferences, etc.), leading to a tendency to experience some emotions more than others. And we may also have tendencies to react in certain ways based on our biology (e.g., temperament). But while emotions may season our lives and give them flavor and dimension, underneath this constant stream of flotsam and jetsam is something truly eternal and unchanging. And in those moments when I remember that, I find peace.
I find the idea that “nothing lasts” as comforting as it is disturbing. I’ve been in a great many disturbing situations in the past several years. To think that, “This too shall pass,” helps me to maintain perspective with my eye on the big picture. The same holds true for how much I value peaceful moments or intimate and loving times with my grown children, family or friends. When my dad is being difficult (half the time) it is very easy for me to fast forward into the future when he is not around and focus on the fact that I am blessed to have a father who is fun most of the time. It really, really helps that nothing lasts because pain, too, will fade. I can be specific, Dad says he wants to marry my mother’s sister. Others in the family are deeply pained or bewildered. Especially Mom’s sister. I am amazed that I am not disturbed. I see it as grief transference. This too shall pass. Nothing lasts. I will just “run interference” as my sibs so often call on me to do. I sit him down and tell him, “No,” I am blessed that this too shall pass. He does at least listen to me and behave for awhile like a chastized child. But this won’t last. Nothing lasts but everything changes. That is what makes a good story. That is life. Colleen
A comment from my friend and reader Beth:
“Nothing lasts… honestly, this thought is so depressing that I think I’ve been avoiding writing to you about it (as you mentioned might happen should we, your readers, try to address it head-on). Well, I’m not letting it deter me any longer!
When trying to think of it in a lighter manner, I first thought of an ice cream cone, so I’m attaching a stock photo of that for your entertainment. Cones, in my mind, much more than cups or any other dessert, do not last. You must take action or you’ll miss the window. In that light, I love this truth, and it makes me want to go get an ice cream cone, lactose intolerance be damned.
The other main thing I think of with this truth… well, with proving this truth to be false, is love. Sounds corny, I know. Love lasts, whether I want it to or not. It might not be constant, it might no longer flow toward me (or from me) from (or to) various people from my life, but the memory of someone’s love does last. A grandparent, a lost friend, a lost love. I can see that person in my memory and I can recall the love I felt at the time, when it was obvious and fresh and joyful — and in so doing, I believe the love lasts, beyond the lifespan of a relationship or even a life.
(I guess this same thing could hold true for anger or resentment. I try to avoid those sorts of lingering emotions. I do not always succeed.)”
It’s true. Nothing lasts, everything breaks down eventually even though it might take so long that we think it’s permanent. I think that it’s helpful to remember because it makes us appreciate everything as it happens. We don’t take the goood things for granted and we don’t get too miserable about the bad things, because as another reader commented – this too will pass.
I see it as a positive, realistic statement.
Another emailed comment!
I really think, that nothing lasts. Believing persons may argue that God exists for ever; but that’s without experience.
I prefer the sentence by Heraklit: “Panta rhei”, all is flowing.
That doesn’t sound so absolute and is more comforting – as I feel it!