The Rules of Change

During a manuscript critique two years ago, a fellow student informed me that I had broken a cardinal rule of writing. Her comment prodded me to examine this concept of ‘rules.’  Thinking about it, I decided that ‘rules’ develop gradually from what works. Meaning, if something is successful–“show, don’t tell” is a big rule in writing fiction–then gradually it becomes a rule to be followed. Except of course when someone breaks it and has an amazing success. I’ve discovered that most award-winning books have broken the rules. And then the writing style forged by the award-winning books becomes the new ‘rule.’

Speaking societally, we revere what has nurtured and sustained us, building rules to keep things that way—and failure is inevitable. Change is the way of the world and what has been, must always make way for its usurper, even if it seems it has lasted forever. (I’m thinking right now of Ancient Egypt, whose civilization was toppled after three thousand years of existence.)

There is a Buddhist expression: “Life is suffering” but that’s only half the saying. The other half is: “and the cause of suffering is attachment.” Get rid of attachment and we get rid of suffering. Why? Because if we don’t attach, we accept things as they are. We accept the change that inevitably, endlessly occurs.

Another Buddhist saying is: “Everything, everywhere, at every moment is perfect and complete, just as it is.” Now I find that a hard one to believe with my dual mind—that’s the mind that lives in “good/bad, black/white, right/wrong.” But with my big mind—the mind that knows it is a part of everything, it makes perfect sense. If we don’t judge, we don’t dualize. If we don’t dualize, we see that everything is exactly as it is—no more, no less. In this respect it is perfect and there is no attachment to have things different from what they are.

Non-attachment is a nice truth to be aware of, to be reinforced during meditation and to be tucked into an innermost part of our being. When the big changes come, I like to be able to take out the trump card of non-attachment and use it to help me through those rough times.

But as an overall goal, I’ll pass. I like feeling my life. I like the feeling of growing and the tug of resistance as I learn to let go of the old, as well as the joy when I learn to trust the new. Life is always a wobbly tight-walk balance between endlessly changing and resistance to change.

Suffering is part of life; emotions are part of life, and really, I don’t think I’m ready to give up those perks to living just yet.