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A friend recently related a conversation with a colleague, who said, “I am so happy right now. If only it would last.” Well, chances are pretty certain that it won’t.
Now before you start thinking of me as a grouch, or pessimist, or simply bad-tempered, look at the comment realistically. Life is not, for most people, a wonderful, happy, smooth ride. There are bumps, ridges, difficulties, heartaches. But those things happen in between the happy times – or maybe the happy times occur between the bumps.
What I’m trying to say is that happiness is fleeting – it isn’t a lasting condition. But the good news is that sadness, difficulty, heartache and irritation are also impermanent. And we have to remember that most of the things that occur in life are impermanent. Storms pass over. A day is sunny, and the next day is rainy, or cold, or way, way too hot. Life is not a straight road. And even in the little things – that sweater that you love so much will someday be a castaway; your close friend may move; a love changes and shifts.
So the thing is, we cannot expect to be happy all the time, though I have a sneaking suspicion that there are many who think that if they’re not happy, then something is really wrong with them. But if you remember that happiness is a temporary condition, you can also remember that the bad times are also temporary, and weather through them.
So all that being said, there is something that is permanent. It’s called joy; it is similar to happiness, but it isn’t a temporary thing; it’s a thing of spirit. Spirit is you. It is not your body, not your mind, not your thoughts. It is above, beyond, and all around you. If you hold on to that in the middle of difficult times, you can remember that everything that is happening around you is not permanent; but you are.
In the midst of sorrow, failure, illness, distress of any sort – you are permanent. Not the events, the outer shell of things. Those are not permanent. But you, and I, we are permanent. Our bodies, the things we use to let people know we’re here, may get a bit run-down; our feelings may get hurt, or we may get angry, frustrated or feel alone; a loved one may be ill, or die, or leave. These are events, and their effects are temporary. But behind all that is the permanent part, the part that remains forever.
All of us live through many experiences, both good and bad, happy and sad. And I have learned that though I may be happy at a given moment, or though I may be suffering at a given moment, I can participate in whatever is happening, with the certainty that it is temporary, and that things will change. And knowing that, being able to see clearly through all the temporary events, fills me with a different kind of peace and comfort. That is joy. That is spirit telling me that I will prevail through all things.