Some of the events in our life are within our control while others are not. Either way, how we decide to make sense of those happenings is up to us. When we inquire deeply enough into the ways we interpret our life, we discover a reciprocal relationship. We begin by telling our stories; after a while, we realise that our stories are telling about us.
This is the fork in the road. One way leads to nihilism (nothing matters); the other leads to existentialism (our existence is all we really have.) I choose the second path: the meaning and purpose one ascribes to one’s life fundamentally matters.
The human need to create that shapes every painting, symphony, poem, skyscraper, and piece of code is also the force that shapes what we do with what the poet Mary Oliver called our “one wild and precious life.”
The fact that the stories we tell about our lives are rooted in frozen moments of the past makes them no less real. Whether what has arisen and faded really happened or was purely our interpretation, we are left with the same thing: what survives (the memory) and how we choose to interpret it (the story) are as real as paint, canvas, ink, wood and brass, steel and glass. From the perspective of time, the only difference between a memory and a mountain is scale.
The Buddhist doctrine of impermanence apprehends one aspect of the essential nature of reality. How we respond to even this reality depends on the story we choose to tell about it.
Impermanence is. Whether that fact makes life meaningless or exquisitely precious is up to us.
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