Last night, I watched the critically acclaimed Margaret Thatcher biopic ‘The Iron Lady’. For those of you unfamiliar with the piece or Thatcher as I was earlier this evening, it details the prime minister’s life told in flashbacks from the frail dementia-ridden main character of Thatcher herself, struggling with old age and the death of her husband who still appears and talks to her often.
Politics aside, and I am no big fan, ‘The Iron Lady’ hit me completely off guard with it’s emotional side. Thatcher’s loss of her friend to an IRA bombing, her dementia and the loss of her husband. At the end of the movie, I was sobbing and not because I care deeply her, but for the humanity of it all.
It strikes me at now, age 22, I have seen very little death, every grandparent is alive and even one great grandparent. And yet as time draws on, I am very aware, that this is not a constant situation. My life is as yet, untouched by any significant deaths and in that, I have become quite aware of the impermanence of life. I fear it, and I do not live in the moment.
Permanence is often considered to be something that is desired, a steady job, an income, friends, family, etc. Keeping things as they are in order to continue living a happy and healthy life. However, time ticks on and inevitably we’ll all get old and have to retire, or we’ll find out our friends are dicks and won’t want to be around them any more or some one will die.
Permanence doesn’t seem to exist in the world for any long space of time. It transpires in brief snapshots, a few years where everything’s sort of the same each week and each weekend. Then something will change, a new job, a new family, a new city. Inevitably there’s a change.
Obviously we don’t have a choice between permanence and impermanence but if we did, what sort of life would humans be living? I posit, some stagnant world where every week and weekend is the same, the same train times, the same people, the same cities, predictability. We’d live out lives in cookie cutter molds because to have permanence, you have to have no change, everyone and everything would have to stay the same.
But luckily we do have choices and we do have change and as can be proven to be so, we have free will.
As a millennial, I find myself with an insecure future ahead of myself, global warming, technological development, an ageing population, government instability, financial crises. The future is undeniably uncertain. The nature of millennials in fact was best described by my friend, ‘we all spend some time doing some things we don’t like, in order to go off and do things we do like’. A constant trade off of the monetary reward of stability and the freedom and enjoyment of personal hobbies and travel.
Almost everyone heading towards the future understands these instabilities, and likely fears them in at least some small way. However, perhaps the most pertinent part of all of this is to remember what Maya Angelou said “We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”