I am quite sure the floor to this airplane is a solid object on which I can trust my body, my life and two bags of luggage, that it will not fail me. Pema Chodron would tell me this trust is unfounded, and silly. Obviously there is no ground beneath me. That is the nature of existence. She would say that there is always nothing holding this together. Once, knowing this, you can settle into a life of constant and permanent change. Are we ready for this? For our lovers and our children to be growing and living and falling to pieces. For not only technology, but memories, books and even the good old days to be constantly reshaping. Are we ready to admit that we are all gerunds unsettling, electrons bouncing from cloud to cloud, constantly running into each other and running away?
No. We try to hold onto moments, judgements, grudges. We try to outrun our own changing bodies, to beat back time, to trust memory and story, and to avoid having to face our inevitable death. We pile up anything that has ever given us a step up, a slight advantage, hoping that the mountain beneath us is enough to never crumble. But, there is nothing holding the earth in place, because it is not in place. It is a massive whirling spinning foam that has slowed and cooled only slightly. But somehow, when we came down from the trees, the first thing we tried to do was set down roots. We still try today to slow down sunlight, capture it and mead it out at a pace that allows us to stay in one place and safe.
And so we build things. At one point, “things” were about safety, and perhaps procreation. The person with the best cave could keep their offspring safe. But at some point we no longer had to worry about the elements, about lions. We are headed towards a world where some people will not have to worry about crime or accidents or disease. So why create or purchase more things. Remember, there is no ground beneath this airplane. We are spinning in the currents above spinning currents. We have not, will not, can not escape our ever changing, changing fate. Our inventions continue their decay.
So, I think, we innovate things that will not change. Artwork, pictures, injection plastic molding. If I buy a really nice model of car, or a great pair of jeans, perhaps they will outlast me. Perhaps I will be in my darkest final days and still have my teddy bear given to me when I was three, or the tie given to me when I was thirty. If only we could build slower and slower, or stopped, things. This is struggle. This is work. This is our rock we choose to push, each morning, uphill.
Tomorrow (and tomorrow), in a new place, in a new body, you will be forced to admit that nothing can be held very well for very long. You are different than you were today. Your newest set of nicest plates is not the same. Whether it be by flood, or earthquake or the slow rumble of time, your finest China will fall away. This is the nature of reality, the clothes on your back will leave you threadbare, and then you will lose your back, then this body.
Galileo chose to recant his findings in life. At death, he is claimed to have said, “It moves.” It rubs, it recedes, it decays, it falls away. It wants to be free from form, and then to form every form. Right now, the metal underneath my seat is being warn away by winds moving five hundred miles per hour at fifty degrees below freezing. It was not always metal. It will not always be. It is constantly moving. There is no permanence in things, only chasing.