By Larry Feinstein

It’s funny, you can read about stuff and think you are embodying it, and then the reality hits that without experiencing something, you reside in the comfort of untested intellectual theories. For years, I have been reading about the Zen thesis of impermanence and an existence embedded in continual change. From the time of my first exposure to these seemingly revolutionary ideas, they made perfect sense to me.

I should have known if I found comfort in the idea of living in a world of constant change; I was a visitor, but not a citizen. The older I have gotten, the less I understand, which seems like a backwards admission, but it is the truth. Time and experience can shrink your horizon, as both of those accumulate.

I have found myself overwhelmed with the rapidity of change and it doesn’t matter how it is packaged. I can’t say for certain when the gears shifted, but gracefully adjusting and accommodating the unfamiliar became an effort I was either no longer willing or able to effortlessly harbor. The foundation of presumption seems to get thicker, while age and deviations from the usual feel more cumbersome and even stunning, at least to me.

I am going to have to take issue with the Buddha, which feels like  a pretty ridiculous admission. Oh, this is big news in: Larry Feinstein disagrees with the Buddha! I know he wouldn’t care, which is why we have been pals for so long. I think change comes in two packages, your own and absolutely everything else around you. I think about my 76 years here, and all I have gone through to get here. I know for sure I am not who I was, even yesterday. Oh my God, the world I have inhabited all this time has undergone changes Isaac Asimov on acid couldn’t have anticipated.

Sure, the Big Man would say it is all about constant change and there are absolutely no borders. It all runs together, and my own changes are just part of the continuous state of change, which sounds perfect until you decide you want to own your own. I can go back to any time in my past and marvel at how I did have those things. I made so many moves, having absolutely no idea what their consequences would be, but I charged ahead like a lobotomized bull. I sit here, draped in a flannel night shirt, eyes on the computer and fingers on the keyboard and I can’t imagine doing half the things I did so many years ago.

My way of looking at the world has changed so much, because of my own experience, harmonized with the passage of time. I think throughout our lives, we are continually fitted with new life glasses that change how we see ourselves in relation to absolutely everything around us. There is no question I am not who I was and seem to get reacquainted with myself every day.

If absolutely everything stayed static throughout my continued morphing over the years, it would be tricky enough. I think about being a kid in the 1950s in Queens, New York, and things seemed to be under control. I was the change that was going to inhabit a world that seemed somewhat familiar and predictable. Then, the 1960s happened and uncertainty took the helm. In this country, some extraordinary people got murdered and we seemed to all get a glance behind the curtain at the dark witch of unbridled power.

I am not sure exactly when the speed of change began to pick up, becoming impossible to gauge. When I left New York City in the late 1980s, the technological stampede had barely begun. I thought it was a miracle to transmit photographs through the telephone. Desktop computers could perform all sorts of functions that were tedious before their arrival. Looking back, a favorite direction at this point in my life, I wonder if my departure for Santa Fe, New Mexico was a way of trying to get away from what I knew was coming.

Today, I am terribly conflicted, and I wish the Buddha and I could talk about it. But we can’t. The world around me is so completely different and often an awful foreign feeling. Should I learn about Bitcoin and its incredibly strange vocabulary? How much attention should I pay to quantifiable changes in our climate? How upset should I be that the dialogue in this country is borderline insane? How upset should I be that science has somehow become opinion and not dropdead fact? When did transparent lying become believable?

This is exactly where the Buddha gets the last laugh. While we would love to etch on the tombstone of the moment exactly how things are, we couldn’t carve a single letter without the message being quickly outmoded.

So, here I am, at this point in my life, looking for anchors to help me from being buttressed about by the unpredictable winds of change. I can’t think of a better device than a sense of humor, seriously. We are, each and every one of us, ridiculous. If you think I am kidding, take a look at yourself.

 

 


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