It was United States founding father, Benjamin Franklin, that once spoke what is now an oft-used phrase about impermanence — “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
It was the 5th century BC Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, that spoke another oft-used phrase about change — “the only thing constant is change.”
I’ve been thinking about these two statements a lot lately. Personally, checking my own ability to adapt. With my 19 year-old son, encouraging him in some movements in his life. With my designs for groups convening that I know need to go to a place of deeper learning — “relationship to uncertainty” is a doorway.
Life is uncertain. Inherently. Despite any of our heroic, societal efforts to mask the not-knowns. You can’t get around it. Like death and taxes.
What’s called for in us is the ability to be in change (yes, about now would be good to offer the qualifier, “do as I say, not as I do”). Learning to be with impermanence and a continued change is a life-long practice. No finish line. Never done. Learn some in our teens. Some in our 20s. And 30s. And on. And on.
Learning to be fluid and adaptive is a massively good skill. Doing that from a clear enough sense of who any of us are (that doesn’t change so readily) — that’s gold!
For me, one of those orientations I learned from my grandmothers, is that I’m a learner. There is always learning to do. That statement grounds me to be able to shift into the multiplicity of environments that I learn in. Now I’m learning as a father. Now I’m learning working with educators. Now I’m learning as I offer a workshop. Now I’m learning as I grieve a pending loss of my dog. Now I’m learning as I live in Utah. Now I’m learning as I live in Seattle.
I remain the learner. The place or the topics that I learn in doesn’t remain. My ability most needed is being fluid.
Amidst impermanence. Amidst change.