We still have a few weeks remaining of this current season until the December Solstice. We are able to see the predominant climatic characteristics of the present season interact with characteristics of the next season. These are signs of continuous change and transformation that occur on Earth’s surface.
Here in Nebraska, only a scant few months ago, the weather was sweltering hot, and to me, very unpleasant. Today, the air is nippy with chill, and to me, very pleasant. Clothing requirements have gradually transformed from jeans and polo shirts to jeans, sweaters, and coats. Similar transformations occur cyclically each year.
As biological organisms, we undergo transformations. We can look at photographs of us that were shot at various stages of life. There are photos of us as infants, small children, older children, teens, young adults, etcetera. I can feel astonishment when I see a picture of me as a little boy, then look at myself in the mirror now. If I survive to an elderly stage, the physical transformation could be just as profound.
I remember when Chuck, my across the street neighbor, planted a silver maple sapling in his yard several years ago. Today, it is a towering mass of wood that scatters its thousands of “helicopter” seeds onto my yard each spring and its seemingly endless supply of leaves onto my yard each autumn. The tree becomes a little taller and sprouts more branches with each passing year.
I drive a 21-year-old car. I’ve taken care to wash, polish, and preserve the car’s body. I give the car regular oil changes, and pay mechanics to perform its major maintenance requirements. The car is finally beginning to act its age. The struts are squeaky, the engine is starting to burn a little bit of oil, and I have to be more mindful when shifting from first to second gear. During all of these years, it has transformed from a showroom fresh car to a vintage sedan.
These observations show how transformation is integral to life and everything in the Universe. It’s wise to pause for a few minutes in order to ponder the impermanence of every single thing that exists.
Throughout our lives we undergo upheavals that may result in significant personal transformations. These changes are often forced upon us, against our will. Sometimes the changes are matters of choice. Some events may cause us to examine our fundamental belief choices, ethical values, and purposes. Frequently personal transformation is the result of an existential crisis or “dark night of the soul”. Although an existential crisis can be quite unsettling and upsetting, the end result might be a positive realignment of living and lifestyle.
We instinctively resist change and delay the eventual upheaval. We might even be in denial that changes are occurring. We hold on for dear life to beliefs about life that are no longer relevant nor healthy. To shed the chrysalis of the past life is necessary in order for us to take wing into new possibilities and expanded ways of thinking. The analogy of the life cycle of the moth is a helpful way to objectively view one’s own life. We cannot always remain caterpillars. It is unhelpful to prolong existence within a chrysalis. We emerge from each stage of life, transforming and evolving to face life on our own terms as necessary.
Knowing that life and the world around us are constantly transforming and evolving enables us to anticipate changes in our lives. We can plan for the future and try to minimize the destruction ahead of us and optimize the lessons of major change.
We can pause, each day, to mindfully witness the constant changes that go on around us and within us. This shift in consciousness can enable us to transform ourselves in subtle, yet profound ways.