“When Things Fall Apart”


I started reading “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chödrön, and it was recommended to me by my library mentor.

I’m unfamiliar with much of the Buddhist teachings, and so far, a lot of it runs counter to how I think and feel on a regular basis. To say that reading it is difficult is an understatement. It makes me uncomfortable, but it seems like that’s the point.

Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit.”


I’m the type of person who gathers as much information as humanly possible. I like to feel prepared. I like to have contingency plans. I’m Batman.

Take that away, and I’m a lost little girl again, grasping onto anything familiar and comforting. Or lashing out in pain and fear. I’m always at war.

I long for security, but according to what I’m reading, security is a false hope. Nothing is permanent, and once you come to terms with constant change, once you accept it, you’re on the right path.

Now, this feels so repugnant to me. I’ve always felt the constant flux of things has been one of the reasons why I’m so anxious. But it’s not actually the change that I’m anxious about. It’s the future. The uncertainty of the future fuels my anxiety. Relinquishing the past and the future, and staying in the ever-changing present, is when we begin to confront ourselves as we are. We must look at ourselves as we are, and have compassion for ourselves.

I don’t know if any of that even makes sense. I’m trying to suss out the main points of this book into digestible tidbits that don’t frighten me, and I’ve been reading it very slowly. A chapter a day.

I keep waiting for some epiphany, but truthfully, it makes me so uncomfortable. Maybe I’ll have to read it a few times before it clicks, or let the ideas marinate in my brain a while longer.

“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what is going on, but that there is something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.” 

How do I feel in the present moment? I feel sick. I feel lost. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel anxious. But I guess I still hope. That things will get better. But I also know things can get bad again. I guess I’m supposed to be OK with the impermanence of life.

I don’t know. I’m all muddled. I want to be OK with how I’m feeling, but my instinct is to run and hide, or drown out my negative feelings with all manner of distractions.

I have a lot to learn still.

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