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The Wake-up call

We know that everything in life is impermanent. We know that life itself is impermanent. We know that, do we?

We can see it everywhere: in the beginning and ending of an inhale. In the constant changes of our body. Hairs grow, wrinkles deepen, knees hurt. The seasons change, the outer and the inner weather is in constant movement. And yet… do we REALLY know?

Sometimes we get a wake-up call. A shattering reminder that puts the inevitable truth right in front of us: yes, this life is impermanent. It is not assured that we will live another day. It is not ours to decide – neither willpower nor goodness can force it to happen. Every minute, every inhale is a gift, a gift we are rarely enough aware of.

A good friend of mine almost died tonight. In the afternoon he prepared the papers for our joint workshop. Today I sit here, teaching on my own. Half of my heart is with him, wishing him all the best for surgery and recovery. The other half of the heart trembles due to the firm reminder I just received.

One of these rare moments, in which we truly realize that it literally could be over every moment. What is the impact of such a direct experience of impermanence?

A lot of things become unimportant. The minor quarrels, the little things we think we need, everything that is supposed to happen in some fantasized future time. The preciousness of other things comes to the fore. Values, beliefs, ideas get brittle in these moments.

What do I really care about?

What is important to me?

What do I invest my energy in?

Do I waste time to create a persona I want to become, a somebody or someone?

Do I try to achieve something and therefore postpone happiness and piece of mind to some future time?

Sometimes the winds of impermanence shake us awake. In the midst of all the comprehensible sadness, the shock, the confusion – maybe there is a small room where we can allow for a glimpse of gratitude.

Precious moments in which the fact of simply being alive touches our hearts and minds. We become sensitive to what really matters to us. Suddenly alert, we start to question, inquire and reflect. For some time at least, we are able to savour each minute we are gifted with. And realign with what dearly matters to us.

Late Mary Oliver, beloved poetrice, put it into words:

„Having chosen to claim my life, I have made for myself, out of work and love, a handsome life.”
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