“Perpetual fluctuation is the essence of the perpetual universe”
May 4, 2013 § 4 Comments
Charlotte recently published an amazing post about time. More specifically, the seconds of our lives and the meaning we assign to them. Included in her post is the TEDtalk that inspired it – make sure to check it out!
While reading her post, I was reminded of a book that I began reading last spring. During that time, I was trying to learn more about stress and how to manage it. This led me to the book Mindfulness in Plain English. Unfortunately, I only got through the first chapter before I flipped my attention to something else. I’m horrible at finishing books. Great at starting them. Horrible at finishing them. At this very moment, there are 9 kindle books and 2 hard copy books that I am “reading”. Anyways, back to mindfulness (are you picking up on the irony yet?)…
In the book, it is written that life is a series of moments flying by and that no two moments are the same – “perpetual fluctuation is the essence of the perpetual universe”. It then continues into the following. (I know it’s long, but it is worth the read!)
It is incessant: change, change, change; no two moments ever the same.
It is the nature of the universe. But human culture has taught us some odd responses to this endless flowing. We categorize experiences. We try to stick each perception, every mental change in this endless flow, into one of three mental pigeon holes: it is good, bad, or neutral. Then, according to which box we stick it in, we perceive with a set of fixed habitual mental responses. If a particular perception has been labeled “good”, then we try to freeze time right there. We grab onto that particular thought, fondle it, hold it, and we try to keep it from escaping. When that does not work, we go all-out in an effort to repeat the experience that caused the thought.
Over on the other side of the mind lies the box labeled “bad”. When we perceive something “bad”, we try to push it away. We try to deny it, reject it, and get rid of it any way we can. We fight against our own experiences. We run from pieces of ourselves.
Between these two reactions lies the neutral box. Here we place the experiences that are neither good nor bad. They are tepid, neutral, uninteresting. We pack experience away in the neutral box so that we can ignore it and thus return our attention to where the action is, namely, our endless round of desire and aversion. So this “neutral” category of experience gets robbed of its fair share of out attention.
The direct result of all this lunacy is a perpetual treadmill race to nowhere, endlessly pounding after pleasure, endlessly fleeing from pain, and endlessly ignoring 90 percent of our experience. Then we wonder why life tastes so flat.
After reading this for the first time, I was struck with such a sense of clarity. I was guilty of all of it. I was guilty of running after the “good” moments, chasing them down and squeezing them tighter and tighter until they escaped. I was guilty of running away from the “bad” moments and even trying to manipulate the future to exclude them. But the thing that saddened me the most, was that I was guilty of disregarding the largest component of my experiences – the “neutral” moments. Every moment has the potential to be the best moment of your life and your meddling may just prevent that from happening.
Since then, I have tried to be more conscious of labeling moments as good, bad or neutral. I try to find some good part, no matter how small, in every experience. It’s there….if you take the time to look for it. As mentioned in an earlier post, no computer and no internet in April made blogging quite the challenge. That didn’t stop me from documenting random moments with my phone! They may not have been the most exciting moments, but they are still seconds of my life caught in time…and there is a certain greatness contained in every one of them.
Now for a glimpse back at some of my “seconds” of April…
To add to the fun, Synnøve took a picture of me, taking a picture of Suvi, taking a picture of the bone. This is what we do to entertain ourselves these days!
April 13th: Saturday morning walk with Jannie around Margit island. Managed over 10 km!
April 17th: Toured the Surgical Department for our Medical Professionalism class. We were waiting in this room for about 20 minutes and couldn’t help joking around in the white coats. There was special way of tying them that involved wrapping it inside and then around itself twice before fastening. When it wasn’t tied properly, we looked like patients in a mental institution. Skjalg put his on backwards the first try….
April 17th: Exchanging shots of Acland (from Acland’s video atlas of anatomy) with Jannie over whatsapp (a chat application). It ended up as a competition for the most creepy shot. This was one of the best ones…
April 17th: Was so exhausted during my Medical Informatics class that I was fighting falling asleep. To stay awake, I tried to figure out the different combinations for binary counting on one hand. My physics teacher had told us that morning that you can count up to 32 on one hand using binary counting. I got up to 30 on my own and then Charlotte helped me with the last two.
April 18th: Canoodling couple at the coffee shop. They caressed each other in the corner for several hours, which was really only awkward because we were the only ones up there with them.
April 19th: tried to make a tasty dinner for Skjalg and I and thought I would try this couscous dish as a side for the chicken. Turned out it wasn’t couscous….but rather bouillon! Ended up ruining the veggies and wild rice I mixed it in with. I need to learn Hungarian faster!
April 22nd: Studying anatomy in a park close to school with Skjalg and Jannie. It was only two days before our midterm on the internal organs so we were quite stressed, but it was so calming to sit in the sun with the warm breeze.
April 24th: Dinner with the group after our anatomy midterm. Clare had just finished her birthday shot! I wish I had gotten a better picture, but this will have to do! It was an amazing night, despite us being completely drained after our exam. I feel so lucky to be part of such an wonderful group!
April 28th: Ready to go for exam registration! You have about 5 seconds to register before the dates you want fill up. It is quite possibly the most stressful thing I have ever experienced. Luckily, I got all the dates I wanted!
And finally, my favorite moment of the week:
So happy to have internet back!!!!