Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Stars do fade away, after all. But not before they have shone the brightest. The world of Indian cinema saw the fading of two of its brightest stars, who impacted life of not just the ones who knew them but the ones who felt that these people gave voice to their stories, enacted part of their lives in some way.
Have you ever felt a pain due to the departure of someone you didn’t even know personally? It’s a true feeling. And the reason it happens is, in their sudden sunset we see our impermanence in front of our eyes. A grief prelude to when it happens to us. How there is something today which might cease to be the next moment!
That suddenness creates a void a vacuum. I experienced the same pain, the same grief. And a realization how we take what we have, for granted; thinking we will have it forever. How we assume the permanence of what we have – the materialistic possessions, the people in our lives, the thoughts that we gave birth to and ourselves – an accumulation of all what we think belongs to us. This not only makes us live with a wrong notion of immortality but also stops us from accepting change and closes ourselves to anything that is new.
Impermanence (Anitya in Sanskit or Anicca in Pali ) has a foundational base in almost all wisdoms. It is basic to living. We get embroiled in connections and attachments to people and things and our thoughts. None of which we know is immortal.
Life is to be lived with content by learning to be with whatever life brings to us. Whether it comes in the form of a joy or a great difficulty, the only way to live is by being open ourselves to whatever life brings us – internally or externally. Being impartial to what is brought to us. Something I’m reading in Stoicism as well.
Life is an elimination process not an accumulation process. Being attached to things or people or thoughts is an act of addition or multiplication. Being grateful for the moment and living it fully knowing this is the moment we all have is the true act of elimination. And the only way to live.
I thought none better than Rumi to guide us on how to deal with impermanence through his poem The Guest House:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
These wise words remind me of the cliché (and oft forgotten) how life is not measured in the number of years we live but in the countless moments which could be enjoyed in its totality. A moment is both eternal and impermanent. It is all what we have. And it is not forever.
RIP Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor. You entertained us, splendidly.