Being Present in the Midst of Change

being present

Time and space always change, but there is something which is eternal and changeless. For example, the world and time, past or future, nothing exists for us in sleep. But we exist. Let us try to find out that which is changeless and which always exists.

~Ramana Maharshi

Change as a Force

If you’ve ever witnessed someone change over time, especially due to mental or physical illness, you know how hard it is to remain present with their changes. You remember your parent as the fun-loving, energetic, prankster. That is who is imprinted in your mind. But now that age and decline have set in, it’s like there’s an entirely different person in front of you, and you find yourself frustrated that they can’t just be who you remember them to be.

As new people come into your life, or your parent’s, they are meeting this present version of your parent rather than the one you have imprinted in your cells. They meet your parent as this grumpy, crotchety, miser. You’re ashamed and embarrassed about who they are now. Then you’re frustrated because you don’t understand where this new personality came from. So you encourage them to try a new therapy or a new medication, to no avail. In fact, it just drives a wedge further between you the more you try to get them to take your advice.

Being Present with the Change

So what can you do? Feeling frustrated and angry is getting you nowhere. Your parent won’t take any of your well-meaning suggestions, even though you can so clearly see the path to a better future for them.

You can’t do anything.

And you need to get okay with that. Because that is the only thing that will save your peace of mind, keep your relationship in tact, and stop the arguments, both between you and your parent and within your own mind.

When you first knew your parent, the one who was fun-loving and energetic, you met them there as they were. You didn’t wish for them to be someone else, your child self simply accepted them as they were. That’s what you need to do now. It doesn’t mean you forget who you first knew them to be, but you can accept them for who they are now. Ramana Maharishi, as quoted above, advises to find out what is changeless and which always exists. You can do that by being present with what is right in front of you, no matter how quickly it changes.

Your parent as your parent is changeless. Being present with your parent is changeless. And that is where the gift to both of you lies. Being present helps you find your footing when you feel like the ground is eroding right under your feet.

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