Over the last few days in my contemplations I have revisited one of my pet philosophical/religious concepts, mujō meaning “transience” or “mutability”. In looking at my surroundings I find almost everybody obsessed with permanence. They are searching for something permanent, striving to make something permanent, or assuming that things are permanent. All in the face of insanely rapid change that marks our culture in American. We are constantly looking for something better while simultaneously believing in or assuming the permanence of things that are not within our current focus.
In my opinion this is best exemplified in how we treat ourselves. We are in constantly striving to maintain a youthful physical appearance and deny our ages to paraphrase the commercials. We deny our mortality and tend to shove our elderly relatives into assisted living homes where they are someone else’s problem and we don’t have to be reminded of our mortality. In fact, we have a tendency to recreate many of the symptoms of old age as diseases or conditions and then try to cure them or provide means to hide them from others. We strive to maintain a permanent self-image of who we were as an 18 – 30 year old and we attempt to project that to others. On an even deeper level, we assume a permanent self. We are who we are. The core of who we are was developed at a young age and all experiences merely add to that core being.
On the other hand, we are a culture of redemption. We love those who have fallen but repented and have become better people for it. Visiting a psychologist often involves determining why you act in certain way, whether it is due to past experiences, false assumptions, or combination and then “reprogram” ourselves to overcome those behaviors. As the so-called “baby boomer” generation has aged we also see the older portion of our population reinventing themselves, usually upon retirement. Former doctors become poets; sedentary accountants become world travelers, etc. Yet still we approach each of these changes as permanent.
I lost my point some time ago, but if I were to revision it now, I would say we place too much emphasis on permanence. We try so hard to lock things in place that we become static in our struggle. I don’t mean just “go with the flow”, nor am I advocating for my own personal belief that “individuals” are more a string of constantly changing interdependent factors than a permanent self. What I am saying is that when you approach life realize that it is by its very nature impermanent and fleeting. Change is in essence neither good nor bad, it just is.
Song of the Day: American Face Dust- Black Moth Super Rainbow
Religious Figure of the Day: Lauma
Medium: graphite on business card