These happen to be the truest words that I know of. Terence Mckenna brought them to my attention when he mentioned them in one of his lectures (listen to the short version here ).
“You want to know a psychedelic truth, you know, thirty years of psychedelic voyaging, I can distill it for you, this is not a psychedelic truth, this is truth.
Here it is – you can learn this from drugs, you can learn it from life, you can learn it from death, you can learn it anyway you like, but by god you will learn it.
Nothing lasts. Nothing lasts…not your enemies, not your friends, not your youth, not your dreams not your fears, not your hope, not even yourself. Nothing lasts.
Now this has been said often, but has been felt rarely, Heraclitus said “Panta Rhei ” – all flows. Nothing lasts… “
From this simple fact we can extrapolate into our lives and see which concepts gets destroyed and which stay intact. Since nothing lasts, it is completely ridiculous to feel anxious, because it implies that we’re in control. That by anticipating and worrying about the future, we might somehow keep things from going one direction or the other. But we’re really not in control. Whatever we have control over is so minuscule to the forces that nature demonstrates, that it becomes almost comical how futile our struggle for control is.
Letting go of control allows us to feel so relieved because we can finally just accept whatever reality is that we find ourselves in. We stop trying to fix it and just let it be. It is in those moments that we think “Fuck it, whatever, who really gives a shit”.
It doesn’t even have to be during some profound moment. It could come at any time. When we are having a particularly hard day, or when we’re failing at becoming who we aspire to be. When we find ourselves lost in the abyss of rejection, self-doubt and fear.
We might feel like we’re being submerged in murky waters, where confusion reigns and we don’t know which direction to take and how much energy to put into that final push for air. Maybe it’s better not to take that final push. We start considering the alternative as a realistic possibility.
It doesn’t have to be some life or death situation though. It could be simply giving up on an ideal that we have held ourselves to. It could be the acceptance of the end of a relationship or a side of us that we have clung onto for far too long.
Yes, nothing lasts. Ironically that will always be true. In that statement we see the paradox of living. What we call a living organism is just matter changing forms. There is no purpose to life. The purpose of an organism isn’t to survive and reproduce. That is a misunderstanding or a lie. Living organisms aren’t choosing to live. They just do. They don’t have a purpose. We humans form our ideas about having a purpose after the fact that we become alive.
It’s like we are trying to rationalize living. We don’t need to justify our existence, or the lack of it. It’s like asking a cat to justify its use of time. It presumably doesn’t care what the purpose of its life is, it just lives.
That’s what humans struggle to come to grips with the most. The acceptance of simply being an animal. Of just being this weak, two legged, weird, awkward creature. Our fellow earthlings seem to inherently accept this, while it is lost on us. We have work on developing the acceptance of our inevitable end. They don’t appear to give it much thought. This makes us jealous. If only we could accept the present moment in its fullest, then we would actually be living. Instead we’re just thinking about living.
What happens when proverbial shit finally hits the fan? World War III, the zombie apocalypse, or more likely, us just fucking the planet through global warming. Well, that won’t last either.
Fuck it, let it happen. Let everything that can go wrong, actually go wrong. At least that way we realize the futility of worrying about it all going wrong.
Chances are though, it won’t be that bad. But on a more individual level, shit can go completely wrong in our simple, small, little lives. You lose that dream job, that lover, that wife. You may lose all your money, family and friends.
But you know why it’ll be fine? Because you already knew that was going to happen at some point. Nothing lasts…remember? Since nothing lasts, then nothing bad will always be bad. Death is not that bad when you’re the one that’s dead. That broken heart will heal and you’ll move on. That feeling of emptiness when missing someone is also going to be dragged away from you, one small painful increment at a time, until there is nothing. And that will last.