Absorb the transitions
I finally mastered the trail feature I’d been keeping my eye on for months—a steep off-camber double rock roll into a janky corner. It felt awesome! Since that success session, many of my morning laps finish on this trail because it sets up my day with confidence, focus and a shot of adrenaline!
However…just when I thought I settled into the new perfect routine, the trail changes. The rock transitions have been filled with dirt, the exit has been manicured, and everything has been mellowed out. My exciting lap has transformed into something a bit, unremarkable.
Loosen your grip
The lesson I’m sharing today is one I’ve written about before, but something I feel requires a constant daily practice—the lesson is impermanence. Because so often, just when you think you’ve got life under control, BAM! You’re hit with something new to leave you reeling with distress.
I was recently hit with news that one of my best friends is moving away. She’s like a sister to me, and the family I so desperately needed in times of struggle. I know I have to come to grips with this new reality, but as the truth sinks in, I feel my heart squeeze with sorrow…
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” —Winnie The Pooh
We’re all guilty of clinging to relationships, expectations and ideas about how life should be, and this is a big reason why we suffer—we hold on to things that are no longer available to us. In the case of friends, lovers, family, or pets, we naturally get emotionally invested, but what we mustn’t do is get attached to a fixed image we have of the relationship; because the image is likely to change, and if you’re not going with the flow, you’ll experience tremendous hurt.
I’m not suggesting we should build an apathetic wall around our hearts. I’m simply suggesting that we loosen our grip on people, emotions, and things…
Take everything as is
To navigate the reality of impermanence you must accept things as is, in the moment, and be open to how they shift or change. Healthy relationships understand impermanence and how it puts kindness and compassion above all else—it’s less about you and your selfish needs, and more about accepting and loving people and situations as they are.
Opening our hearts to impermanence
Acknowledging impermanence by no means dulls the sting of a broken heart, but if we look deep enough we may find that the possibility of losing something, for the opportunity of connection is a risk worth taking. Only a heart that is willing to be touched by pain can fully savour the present. Whether you’re maneuvering through a technical trail or an important relationship, when we let go of expectations and navigate life’s terrain as it comes, we can fully enjoy the moment and the greatest joys life has to offer.
Impermanence works two ways, and that means pain will change, we will change and our circumstances will change. Life will bring us new relationships, new situations, and new reasons for joy.
If you’re too comfortable, it’s time to move on; if you’re terrified, you’re on the right track.
Anything that causes a shift in your sense of self or identity will force you to see just how attached you are to the status quo. That reality can be incredibly scary and painful, but refusing to acknowledge change undermines the potential for growth.
Going through changes can signify a chance of growth and possibility. When you seek growth instead of sorrow, it enables you to put your energy into another form that could lead to newfound fulfillment and joy. Impermanence means endings, but it also means beginnings; it makes room for possibilities, and it also means we don’t have to be trapped by our current struggle.
Hold your ready position
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”—Mike Tyson. The punch may look different for everyone – a cancer diagnosis, a skiing accident, a divorce, a friend moving away, a job loss, etc. Whatever the case, if you can assume a relaxed “ready position” in life, your ability to adapt to changing conditions and flow with the moment will increase.
When riding a bike, the “ready position” is the body position you should adopt when entering into technical trail sections. A good ready (or neutral) position isn’t tense, fearful or angry; it’s calm, relaxed and it allows the bike to move freely under you. Nothing is forced. This idea can be applied to our daily practice of impermanence—relax your grip and gently flow through life’s terrain; accepting things as they come, absorbing the bumps as best you can, and gazing in the direction the trail takes you.
The ebb and flow of impermanence
I’m not sure how I mustered the courage to flip my life upside down a few years ago. At the time, all I could think about was worst case scenario—no job, no home, no stability, no family, my life is probably f***ed. …but somehow none of those worries materialized.
I landed in Squamish, and little did I know that my new BFF would be there to greet me. Fast friends would be an understatement, because she had me at “Pilates”. There’s no coincidence to the timing of certain people coming in or out of our lives, and man did I need her.
She became my biggest Zesty fan, she adopted me into her family when I confessed that I had no one to turn to; she high-fived me for each personal success, she listened to all my heartbreak stories, she dropped everything to rescue me when I got injured, she laughed at every single joke (good and bad), she never judged me, she let me drive by and get a hug any time of day… and I am so lucky to have met her. She is a truly generous, sweet, compassionate, zesty human being.
Circumstances may not be permanent, but the moments, the memories and the marks people leave on you are forever.
The impermanence of grief
A bad day ends when we fall asleep, the last mile of a steep climb comes to pass, and the sadness you feel will make your joy much sweeter.
When it’s time to grieve, you’ve gotta go all in; release the familiarity and welcome the unknown. These moments can help us reach a deeper awareness about ourselves, about others and about life. Grief teaches us to prioritize the important things and to let go of the rest. It reminds us of the impermanence of people and things; with this we can live with greater purpose and have greater compassion towards others.
Somewhere between hello and goodbye was a lot of life, laughs and…Pilates. Thanks Andi, Squamish will miss you!