By LEE HWAI TAH
Life is like stepping into the river, for it’s an endless flow of change – you never step into the same river twice.
Nothing stays the same, the only constant is change. Yet many of us live under the illusion that life is constant.
Consider our physiology for a moment. From breath to breath, our bodies exchange so many atoms that we change the makeup of our physiology, moment by moment.
I’ve read that over the course of a year, 98% of all our atoms are exchanged for new ones.
We are quite literally new beings each year! Every breath and every moment are a constant flow of endless experience of change.
We can’t stop the river from flowing. We have no choice in the matter. This is a part of the price of admission to this thing called life.
At every moment, our atoms of our being are changing.
Our thoughts, our emotions, feelings and relationships with everything in the world and people around us are changing all the time.
Our only choice in the matter is this: our capacity and ability to adapt and to learn.
Learning to be open to opportunities of learning can be difficult.
Quite often, we are forced to embrace certain lessons the hard way – like a child who is dragged kicking and screaming.
Someone once said this: People are more likely to change because they feel the heat than because they see the light.
The rock climbing metaphor
Positive change requires letting go of old patterns and taking a fresh approach.
That reminds me of my first rock climbing experience at Krabi (Thailand) about six years ago.
The rock around Railay in Krabi is all natural limestone and is a world-class rock climbing destination.
As a newbie, I’d cling on too tightly to all the tiny nooks and cracks my fingers could find.
Many times, I’d find myself hanging on too long at one spot, not trusting my next step.
Soon I’d hear my rock climbing instructor beneath me yelling:
“Let go! Step up! Move!”
If I did not let go from what I was gripping so tightly to, there was no way I could reach out for the next crack above.
And there was no way I could remain stationary at one spot for too long, for my limbs would tire out and begin shaking as my muscles failed.
Then I observed the rock climbing experts around me zipping effortlessly up the walls.
One thing I noticed was this: they do not grip the rocks very tightly at all – just firm enough to propel them to the next height.
It’s a continuous and seamless flow of movements of gripping and letting go, all the while using their legs to push them higher and higher.
And there was nothing in their mind – they told me it’s empty because they don’t have to think much, unlike the thoughts of newbies like me who over-analysed our every step.
It was a joy to watch them climb. It was a beautiful display of the art of exchanging the old for the new! There can be no reaching up, no real progress, no new discovery without first letting go of the old.
It’s okay not to hang on to the old for very long. Let them go.
Many times, the pain you may often associate with letting go is imaginary.
Let me ask you a few questions:
- How many times have you missed a turning while driving on the road only to discover a new, better route?
- Have you, in the past, lost something precious like a job or relationship only to connect with a better one later?
- How many painful experiences did you have in the past that ended up being the most instructive?
Change, our great teacher
Change constantly challenges our current reality by forcing a new reality to rush in.
If we’re open to it and are ready to adapt and learn, new exciting possibilities flow into our lives.
Change is a great teacher – pointing us to new directions, suggesting new options, increasing our potentials and growing us as a person to be better, stronger and wiser.
Accept that change is here to stay. Live in such a way that reflects the fact you’ll never step into the same river twice.