The way things go

A long time ago, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius said, "The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it."

I looked up this quote this morning as I reflected on several situations in which I found myself yesterday.

In the morning, I was sitting with some colleagues from another company unit whose future is uncertain. It looks like their division is going to be sold off and they will learn more about their jobs next week. They were not optimistic and expressed some regret over what "might have been" had the unit been managed differently. Still, they were philosophical about it and prepared for what may come their way.

In the afternoon, I happened to be with another unit that was on the opposite end of the spectrum. Theirs is growing rapidly, so rapidly that those involved have so much work to do at the moment that they fantasize about having clones of themselves to accomplish what they have laid out before them.

Technology is transforming the workplace. Companies acquire other companies, merge, are sold; ventures are born, some are successful, some reach a certain height in their field and stay there, others gradually decline and morph into something new. In the middle of all this are human beings, the drivers of these enterprises and those who give their time and energy to support them. The seasons change, our personal lives change, the business environment changes, the world changes.

We have a natural urge to reach for our dreams; to design our lives as we would like them to be or to maintain things just the way they are because we’ve reached a comfortable place. Meanwhile, the world offers us opportunities and the world also seems to take opportunities away.

I think the more determined we are to control everything ourselves, the harder life becomes; joy is temporary and suffering more apparent. The only thing we can really depend on is what we are inside. It helps if we see what's outside of ourselves as neutral: it's not necessarily good or bad, it just is what is.

It is admirable to work hard to achieve objectives, of course. We need to keep reaching. But we shouldn't allow our ego to wrap itself completely around these ambitions, around visions of how it sees itself or how it thinks the world should see us. These goals are not the "be all and end all." If things change in ways we don't like, we should avoid passing judgment. Instead, it helps to just deal with the reality and move on.

As the sages say, our life situation may change; our life energy does not.

Wish I could remember that more often.

Here are a couple of thoughts from other people:

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.
Ursula K. LeGuin

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
Robert Frost

(These are from The Quotations Page).

Photo is of a nudibranch, or sea slug, photographed at Port Stephens, Australia. Courtesy: the stock.xchng

No comments:

Post a Comment