The Gifts of Impermanence

It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

We form preferences over a lifetime. As a child maybe we wanted to drink our juice from the green cup and not the red cup.  Maybe we wanted to wear our jammies everywhere rather than school clothes or a uniform. We may have liked broccoli trees and apples sliced without the peel. As adults perhaps we expect people to be kind and not ever mean and some people behave cruelly. We don’t want anyone we love to die and people we love die.

What causes many of us to suffer are our attachments, our strong desires, and preferences that we’ve developed over a lifetime of living. When we finally recognize that the yearning for what used to be or what might be or resisting what actually is does not bring inner peace, we can let go of clutching so fiercely to our attachments. That courageous moment of softening our hands around that green cup of preferences frees us to experience a wider domain of sensory input including sight, taste, sound, sensations in our hearts and guts, maybe even a quieter mind of calm as we take deep breathes of oxygen into our lungs and back body.

What we may have taken for granted can be exquisitely appreciated.

We can include the simplest of moments such as the sight of beloved ones, their eyes softly gazing at our eyes, their smiles spreading across their faces as our jaws relax and our face muscles soften into sweet smiles. Ah, can we receive this into our hearts?

Life really is this constant flow of one experience into another. When we can bring our whole selves fully into each experience, we can merge with a heart-opening, exquisite, five or six sensory adventure of being alive to the tears, laughter, appreciation, delight, awe, and wonder of this journey on the big blue planet, a breath-taking, beautiful, mystical, miraculous, ordinary, extraordinary magic carpet ride of surrendering to all that remains impermanent. We can allow love to be our guide as we let go of attachments, gently reach out virtually for one another’s hands, and fully accept this moment, the next, and the next one. Our brave hearts and resilient spirits will lead us safely home to a place of grace.

I’m here for you as we continue to connect and create a world filled with human compassion, love, connection, creative expression, contribution, peace, and grace on this planet or beyond this impermanent life.

You are loved more than you can imagine. You matter to me. We are on this ride together.

Know you can reach out to me to connect on the phone. I will deeply listen and hold space for your heart, attachments, fears, and sorrows in non-judgment and in love.


Laura Staley
Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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  1. Laura this is a strong message. I grew up on a farm and the hardships were there everyday yet those were the most cherished memories I have. This time we live in now will also leave scars, and be known as a devastating time. It has taught me that I should be more respectful for the time I have with family and cherish each moment that I am allowed. Thank you for sharing my friend.

    • Larry-I really thank you for sharing your perspective as those of us who grew up with different types of hardship know what it means to endure, to build resilience, to let go, to savor, to store the “most cherished memories” in our hearts. I think we learn very quickly what we value through challenging times-as you’ve observed that you find yourself aware of time with family and the moments of your life. Thank you so much. A virtual hug to you. I appreciate you, my friend.

  2. This is most heartfelt and appreciated Laura. Very touched. I almost feel like crying.
    I’m home alone and I’m ok, then something makes me want to cry. After suffering the isolation of mental health and re emerging. I’m too aware of what can be so painful and life threatening. I’m finding ways to reach out, and step back to regroup when I have too. This article warms my heart. You are a precious joy to me. Thank you! 🙏. I may be physically alone, but my heart is in good company! Blessings to you my dear! We will prevail! ❤️🙏

    • Oh, Paula, I feel you in that back and forth as I, too, keep having moments of “Oh, gosh! Do I actually have enough food in my house to last for awhile?” and other questions that give me pause as I live with the tail ends of a common cold at the same time that our outer world realities have uprooted in unprecedented ways. I, too, am shifting back and forth between time in nature, time on this platform, time in connection on phone calls with both my adult children and beloved ones, time in meditation/prayer, and moments of utter gratitude and moments of “Woh”. Your heart is absolutely in good company. Know I’m here and a phone call away–614-361-3189. I’m sending waves of gratitude and love to you, my friend.
      Thank you so much for what you’ve shared openly and honestly about what you’re experiencing. We are in this together. Yes, we will prevail!! 🙂

    • Darlene, I believe you are onto something in that I may have cloaked the enduring of difficult situations along with the need to trust in ourselves (and God or the Universe of Love), in the ability to come through with resilience and love. As the waves crash over us and we’re pulled by the undertow, the strength and perseverance to gain our sea legs and fierce will to live and flourish can guide us to that solid ground of new realities.

      I feel like I lived through tsunamis of upheaval in my life and now another one is happening on a global level for every one of us. Unprecedented times and extraordinary opportunities to “stop depriving the world of ourselves.” I appreciate you so very much!

  3. Laura, your article reminds me of this, from Louie Anderson’s book, Dear Dad:

    “I have this theory that all we deal with in life is loss. We lose the protective comfort of the womb. We lose our mother’s breast. We lose the right to mess in our pants. We lose friends, teachers, relatives. We lose our hair, our teeth, and our youth. We keep losing all these things and never get them back, but we never really learn how to deal with the loss. We never really say that it hurts, really hurts, and so we spend the rest of our lives trying to make up for it, holding on tightly to things that we really should let go of.”

    Or, as you put it, “Surrendering to all that remains impermanent.” I’m not sure if this constitutes a conundrum, a paradox, or both. But it seems we can have everything we’re willing to let go of. And that puts me in mind of this, from E.B. White:

    “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

    Thank you for a beautiful read and for prompting these thoughts on a secluded Saturday morning.

    • Mark, thank you so much for all the thoughtful, poignant, and meaningful reflections you’ve offered here. The letting go and grieving is not something that we are taught…well, I certainly wasn’t taught that it was okay to hurt and grieve and let go as it seems I had much taken from me and learned over time how life-enhancing letting go could be. Relinquishing remains an extremely uncomfortable– even downright difficult practice for many of us-who might choose it– as the grieflove remains wound so tightly around the releasing-and not always easily processed through the heart. I believe we actually have to feel the emotional pain of loss to experience the freedom of “savoring” the very next moment. This usually is what most of us resist.

      The quote by E.B. White seems to speak to that very paradox. Radical acceptance, I have discovered, brings some incredible relief and freedom. This practice makes me cry almost every single day.

      I appreciate you, your thoughts, and the meaningful ways you show up in my virtual life here on BizCatalyst360 and LI. You are a treasure.

    • Laura, compare your comment — “I believe we actually have to feel the emotional pain of loss to experience the freedom of ‘savoring’ the very next moment” — to what Marcel Proust once wrote: “We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full.” Yet there are people who don’t believe in universal truths or what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. We ignore both at our own expense.

      I treasure our connection, my friend.

    • You are so welcome, Lynn. May it open that door to the discussion-most definitely-as I know many people are suffering right now and I have lived through much challenge and suffering-body, mind, heart, and spirit. The awakenings that I continue to experience while re-reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer inspire a great deal of my experiences and learnings lately. Thank you so much for taking the time to offer your contribution.