Thursday, 6 December 2007

Impermanence


Splitting my year between Todos Santos and Comox sharply highlights the truth that everything is impermanent. At a simple physical level, it’s like taking a snapshot one day, and then finding that the picture has changed next time you see it. This year in Todos Santos, for example, there’s a frenzy of construction of new buildings of varying levels of architectural merit, especially in the historic core (trying to be grandfathered before the Pueblo Magico Master Plan comes into effect). There’s the new fruit and vegetable store – a source of much discussion for a week or so – small towns are so small!

We all differ in our value judgments of change, but we also have our comfort point – the place at which we want to “freeze” things. I spoke this week to one of the original settlers of “Las Tunas”, the tony neighborhood on el Otro Lado, where now many of the new US immigrants have built their dream houses away from those noisy Mexicans so they can enjoy the “true Baja”. She decried the change that has transformed the simple desert place that they wanted for themselves into a busy upscale neighborhood of fancy homes. One person’s dream shattered, while others see their dreams realized – for a while. For as surely as change comes that we see as great, it continues and morphs the state we love into something else.

This hit home for me yesterday, visiting Los Cerritos beach. This beach of miles of firm golden sand, edged by a rocky headland, is one of the gems of the Pacific Coast. It was raw, and in that form enjoyed by many RV enthusiasts. We loved it, but also felt a little uncomfortable with the complete lack of amenities. No toilets! As the Ejido converted their communal land into titled lots that could be sold, this began to change. As well as a land rush on lot sales, a restaurant/bar appeared on the beachfront. It became the new mecca for Todos Santaeans – the luxury of being able to have a beer and pee in comfort! And the beauty of the place was essentially unchanged.

Fast forward to yesterday. The bar has been transformed into a real estate office full of timeshare-like dudes. It still also happens to sell drinks, but as a lure to drag the suckers in. The first of many, many blocks of condos is already under construction. The headland is now the private enclave of the developer. Jet skis weave between the bathers and surfers. So, much as we wanted to believe it wouldn’t happen, the changes, this time for the worse in our view, roll on inexorably.

It’s not just places that change. Relationships are seeded out of common needs, blossom, and inevitably wane or transform as one’s needs evolve. It’s probably easier to see that in our temporally interrupted lives. Coming back into town, you don’t really pick up where you left. Some become closer, others cleave away.

The truth of impermanence is one of the core messages of the Dharma talks here in Todos Santos. Denying it, and “clinging” to things, people, relationships, feelings, is the root of the suffering we all feel as part of the human condition. We all crave permanence in some form. Here in Mexico, they place plastic flowers at graves. Maybe they hope they’ll last forever. But the sun’s UV rays degrade even them over time.

It hurts to have to accept that everything will pass. I need to learn to get over the desire to freeze things as they are, or to only welcome what I see as positive change. I think I’ll cling to that thought…

1 comment:

Ian Lidster said...

Thanks for you email comments on my blog, and you certainly do have the best of both worlds, going back and forth between here and Todos Santos -- and welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place.
I will definitely come back to your blog again.