The Impermanence Top 40

By Seamus Anthony

By Steve Mills

Remember a few years ago when that song came out, I’m sure you know the one. It had a super catchy chorus, more hooks than a fishing shop and embedded itself so deep in your skull that you found yourself humming it while “on the job”. Sure it was annoying as hell, but everyone was going nuts over it. For weeks it was all you could hear on the radio. It was so popular that it sparked new novelty dance crazes, giving wedding DJ’s an excuse to throw out their tired old copies of the “Grease Megamix” and the “Bus Stop”, and play something new for drunk old people to dance to.

Then one day, something happened. A new song came along, and it had a really catchy chorus, hooks aplenty and was heard pumping out of radio’s from New York to Upper Cumbucta West. Two weeks later no one wants to hear the Macarena, and everyone wants to hear Beyonce. Time moves on, things change.

Just like popular songs, movies and books, everything that we can see in our world is in a transitory, impermanent state. People and places, empires and cities all come from nothing, grow and flourish for a time, and then inevitably at some stage return to nothing. It’s the nature of reality. The Buddha said that “Decay is inherent in all component things,” and his followers accepted that existing in the world meant being in a state of flux, a continuous becoming.

Just like these one hit wonders, most of the stuff that happens in our day to day lives is transitory and impermanent. Events so strange, unpredictable BUT also over so quickly that if you weren’t living through them you would laugh. Events, like being stuck in a traffic jam on the way to an important meeting, or missing out on concert tickets arise into the NOW, flourish for a short time and then vanish, never to be seen again. Detachment to thoughts and negative emotions of past events becomes easier when we gain a perspective of just how small a role in the events of the Universe we take.

But just like the top 40, where the current hit songs are change positions dramatically from week to week, it is this constant flux, this interplay between Ying and Yang, manifestation and destruction that makes life interesting. Change is what makes life worth living. It can be exciting, frightening, exhausting, or bring relief. It can deliver sadness or happiness, resistance or attachment.

If everyday of your life did not have this underlying impermanence, the world would be a very boring place. To me there is no more motivating or perspective changing idea then “No moment ever again, or ever before in the history of the Universe will ever be this moment.” The nature of your impermanence means that the fact that your are alive and conscious in the here and now, thinking these thoughts, breathing this air, seeing these exact things is remarkable. Of all of infinite time and infinite space you are here right now.

And once this microsecond has passed, The Universe as it exists right now will never exist again.

Hi, I'm Seamus Anthony. I am an author, artist and musician from Australia. Here at Rebel Zen, I document my journey as an creative artist and human and in doing so, hopefully help you in your own progress through your life of creativity. Go get your free E-book by me: "Taming The Monkey Mind".