Everything is in Constant Flux
This thought is first attributed to Heraclitus:
Into the same river you could not step twice, for other and still other waters are flowing
This is a comment on the transience of life and the human concept of time. Everything is constantly changing. The water in the river, the nature around you, your body, your mind and everything else in the world and universe.
This saying reminds me to stop looking for sustainable, permanent and safe solutions – there are none. And to stop clinging to my material things and mental images frozen in time. Ideas, things, people, me, you it’s all constantly changing.
The new car I bought yesterday will become rusty and old. And my view of it will change as my value and belief-system evolves as I grow older.
I’m not even the same person that got up this morning. And if I think back a couple of years, some of my ideas and values are the same - but others have changed.
We have a human need to feel safe. Most of the time we try to stuff our bank accounts (nothing inherently wrong with this) to feel safe. But Lady Luck doesn’t care, she can reverse our fortune at any moment.
Prosperity doesn't banish adversity
Something terrible can happen to me or my loved ones at any moment. I cannot prevent this even if I always try my best. I’m wired to want to feel safe, but I can’t have safety. It’s a paradox.
I don't walk around thinking about what can happen all of the time. But realizing and accepting that all I have, including my life, is transient helps me not to cling to it: money, youth, self-image, a bygone time, lost love etc.
Like Seneca, I try to let the upside run but brace myself for the downside, that can materialize at any moment. I have a ticket in my back pocket with a date on it – we all have. I just don’t know what the date is. But I’ll have to leave when my number is up. I came from non-existence and will return there.
But what about consistency? I know that my value-system and how I think about things will change. So there is no point in demanding from myself that my opinions and values are always consistent. I don’t demand this of anyone else either. Don’t be static in your thinking - always examine your motivations, emotions and logic. Jump on opportunities for improvement and new ideas. Don’t be a cement brain.
I need to accept that things are as they are now. That everything changes tomorrow (often so slowly that I don't notice). And do my best to influence the future in a positive direction.
All I can control is taking aim and firing the arrow, but I accept the outcome whether I hit the target or not. Having fired the arrow to the best of my ability the result is out of my control. Accepting and analyzing the outcome will help me move on or try again.
Most of Heraclitus' works are lost to the transience of time, but fragments have been preserved. You can dip your toe into those at your local library.