Last weekend, I found myself in one of those exuberantly giddy moods. The sun was shining, I was full of energy from a good night’s sleep, and the day spread itself out with great opportunity and little obligation. Shivering with delight over the seeming perfection of everything, I found a moment to pause and remind myself:
This too shall pass.
Now why, you may ask, would I smudge a happy moment with the thought that it wasn’t going to last? After all, we usually employ this adage to encourage ourselves when we’re struggling or when we want to hurry up and get through something that feels unpleasant. But the fact is, it ALL passes: the stuff we call good, as well as the stuff we call bad.
I wasn’t being pessimistic when I reminded myself that the moment of feeling blissfully aligned with all that is right and good would probably be gone by tomorrow. In fact, the pause to consider that reality actually gave me a sense of peace. It relieved me to know that I didn’t need to hold on tight to my joy or to feel bad when I inevitably was not able to sustain it.
When I am — let’s face it — irrationally happy, it is a source of solace to me to remember that my bubbly feelings are as fleeting and casual as the darkest moments when I am angry and frustrated and irritable.
I like to believe that my most real self is something akin to a wide-open sky, with clarity and equilibrium as my essence. And everything, painful or joyful, that leans away from that calm center, in any direction and with any intensity, is like a cloud moving across the sky of Me. And every cloud is its own brief gift, regardless of how it feels. My good moods, my bad moods, my failures and my triumphs — they are the seasonings which flavor the taste of this very moment, and then they fade. They always fade.
It is wonderful that nothing lasts. Our pain and our problems are shifting and moving on, even as we cringe under their presence. Our buoyant delight is not sustainable, but we can enjoy its brief visit all the more when we savor the fact that we are already letting go. The nature of change presses us to grow and to remain vibrant in the give and take, the receive and the release of Living.
Try it for yourself. The next time you are feeling on top of the world, I challenge you to whisper to yourself, “This too shall pass,” and see if your moment doesn’t grow just a little bit sweeter.
Beth Lytle is a Flint resident.