Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All Things Must Pass

Without a doubt, my favourite George Harrison song is "All Things Must Pass", both for the beautiful music, and equally for the beautiful lyrics. Here is a video of Harrison performing it live, with just his acoustic guitar.

Paul McCartney has also performed it as a tribute to his old friend, who passed away in 2001, including this version from the Concert for George in 2002, which also features the other surviving Beatle, Ringo Starr, on drums.

And finally, the album version:

The only thing that is permanent in this world is change. It's how we handle that realization that defines us.

Harrison understood that, as did some of my other favourite writers and philosophers, from different perspectives.

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."
- Anatole France

"Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer."
- Shunryu Suzuki

"If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing."
- Saint Augustine

"Every beginning is a consequence - every beginning ends some thing."
- Paul Valéry

"Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are."
- Bertold Brecht

"Every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour."
- Arthur Schopenhauer

My favourite quote about change, however, and our need to accept it - indeed, to embrace it - comes from W. H. Auden's poem "The Age of Anxiety":

"We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die."

What does this all have to do with the paranormal, one might ask? Well, first and foremost, I think that any contact / interaction with an advanced non-human intelligence which might exist is going to require a fundamental change in how we view ourselves, both as individuals and as a collective. But this isn't anything that we should fear. Indeed, we must heed Auden's warning, and climb the cross of the moment when it comes to us. 

Harrison framed his song within the context of a break-up with a lover. I would take that metaphor and apply it to the broader picture thusly: the lover who will leave us behind is going to be our illusions about ourselves, and that's always going to be hard for people, just as it's hard when the girl you love leaves you. But that's okay, because there's always someone else out there for you, just as I think that there's something else out there for us.

All things must pass, and then we face another day.

The key is to embrace the change, and make it a better day.

Paul Kimball

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