Serious illness that puts you out of the daily routines, or grieving a death or other big loss tends to stop you. As a result it feels like the world is rushing past while you are standing still. The experience gives heightened awareness of change, flow of time, mono no aware – the Japanese aesthetic of seeing things “as they are in essence” not as you want them to be or pretend them to be. You, the protagonist, are surrounded by ceaseless change.
Health, routinization and normalcy are the opposite to the above departure from smooth and steady activity, meaning, intention, purpose and progress toward goals. It those times you, the protagonist, are moving and all else is background to your storyline. The experience gives a dulled awareness of change. Things seem to exist in a changeless present in which “things will always be this way.” And “death is for other people; I’ll go on youthful forever.”
How very different, and yet complementary, are these experiences: one of changeless present and one of relentless tension between death and birth, creation and decay. In one you are in motion and background seems to remain static. In the other you are static and the background seems to remain in motion. Yet, perhaps both are true concurrently – we ARE in motion in purposeful ways but also the background IS fluctuating in the seasons, in aging out, in incremental gains and losses.