This, too, shall pass

This last week I’ve been re-reading Eckhart Tolle’s book ‘A New Earth.’ I’m a big fan of his work, and the wisdom that he shares is incredibly eye-opening.

In one of the chapters, Tolle tells an ancient Sufi story about a king who was continuously torn between happiness and despondency. The king got tired of life and wanted to find peace and happiness, thus he sent for a wise man who was known for being enlightened.

The wise man gave the king a ring which had the words ‘This, too, will pass’inscribed, and told him:

“Wear this ring always. Whatever happens, before you call it good or bad, touch this ring and read the inscription. That way, you will always be at peace.“

You might’ve heard this phrase in different variations, such as ‘nothing lasts forever’ or ‘everything is temporary.’ These words might be useful and bring a sense of relief when we are faced with a difficult situation, but what about when we are having the time of our lives?

At first, you’d think that this phrase might diminish joy — reminding you that the wonderful experience you’re having will come to an end sooner or later. However, when you really sit with the words and get to the core of what this phrase is trying to teach us, you will realize that they have the ability to enhance our happiness.

“These words inscribed on the ring are not telling you that you should not enjoy the good in your life, nor are they merely meant to provide some comfort in times of suffering. They have a deeper purpose: to make you aware of the fleetingness of every situation.”

I look back at the time when I was a teenager — going to school, living at home, and seeing my mom every single day. It was just regular, ordinary, everyday life.

However, I only started to realize how precious all of this was when I had only a few months left before my move halfway across the world.

Sometimes I dream about being 16 again, back in Europe, living with my mom. The only thing to worry about would be doing my homework and wondering if that cute boy from my geography class liked me back. What seemed like the boring everyday life then, now makes me wish I had appreciated it all so much more.

On the contrary, when I look back at the times when I was struggling or was in an undesirable situation — I wish I had these words to guide me! Things that seemed like the biggest problem or inconvenience then, makes me laugh out loud now.

A year ago I was living in a small apartment that had a leaking radiator, mice, an occasional cockroach and a bunch of junk (it was a sublet, so the previous girl's things were there) and I was upset about it almost on a daily basis.

I knew I will only be there for 8 months, so this wasn’t, by all means, a long-term situation. However, after discovering the mice, cockroaches, and the radiator situation — I made sure to feel annoyed and frustrated about it every single day.

8 months went by, I packed my bags and moved into a dream apartment. Beautiful, spacious, and finally no rodents or leaking radiators. A few months after my move, I realized how much time I had wasted on fuming over the old apartment.

It’s been exactly a year since I moved, and that ridiculous sublet seems like a foggy dream. Did it really happen? Was I really there? Sure doesn’t feel like it.

Whether we are in a joyful situation, or we’re currently faced with something that seems like the biggest problem of all — let’s remind ourselves that ‘This, too, shall pass.’

Let’s appreciate the good times a little more, and worry about our problems a little less — soon enough our current reality will seem like a long forgotten dream.