Our own reminiscence and facing of impermanence in the movie “Anita Mui”

 A lot of people in town are talking about the biographical movie, “Anita Mui”.  Many people who had watched the movie had gone through a reminiscence of the energetic and vibrant Hong Kong in the generation in which Anita Mui’s career was a huge success.  As Hongkongers, we named Anita Mui as the “Daughter of Hong Kong” due to her grit, diversity, energy, bravery, and philanthropy.  With a humble background, a fatherless childhood and a failure in love life, Anita Mui had fought hard for her life despite her wounds.  Besides griefing for our city’s legend again, the audience might also have gone through their own reminiscence of one’s life.  Apart from the spirit of us and Anita Mui, there is one thing we can be sure is that our life and everything in our life is impermanent.  We need to face and learn to embrace all the impermanence in life.

Throughout our life, we may try very hard to control in order to obtain certainty and permanence.  However, many of us may not realise that this is actually an impossible mission similar to grasping at air.  Even though we might know deep down we cannot have full control of our life, we still try to control with setting up rigid rules and structures in order to increase our sense of security.  One of the reasons behind our striving to control is our unwillingness to acceptance and embrace our sufferings in the face of impermanence.  To face impermanence, such as loss of loved ones, deterioration of health or uncontrollable change in our environment, we inevitably face negative emotions such as sadness, anger, anxiety, or guilt.  Experiences of these negative emotions are uncomfortable and we might try very hard to avoid experiencing them through various strategies to control.  Apart from trying to control, many people may also escape their inevitable sufferings through escape or avoidance.  For instance, some people may escape experiencing negative emotions of losing their loved ones by addiction, such as alcoholism or drug abuse.  For some people, they may avoid experiencing uncomfortable feelings through not thinking about or talking about the deceased loved ones.

In fact, as a human being, we also try very hard to reassure ourselves about our permanence through creating a sense of self identity.  It is common to see that many people identify themselves with their appearance, career success or wealth.  Most of us might have gone through periods in which we strived hard for these qualities, such as going through a strict dietary plan, or spending most of the time working hard on one’s career.  It is not unusual for us to find that these strategies might work for some time, but the outcome might not be guaranteed due to many other variables in our lives.  How do we face our reality of impermanence and all the sufferings associated with it?

To face impermanence, we need to let go of our tendency to control, avoid and escape.  We need to learn to embrace all the negative emotions associated with impermanence in life.  For instance, we let ourselves cry when we are watching the movie, “Anita Mui”.  In a nutshell, we need to let our emotions to flow, but not be overwhelmed by them.  When the negative emotions arising, we allow experiencing them and not to distract ourselves by addiction or other avoidance strategies.  It these negative emotions are too overwhelming, we need to equip ourselves with some self soothing strategies, such as relaxation exercise or grounding exercise.

For practicality, we also need to equip ourselves with practice strategies to face uncertainties and impermanence.  We need to solve problems or difficulties in uncertainties or impermanence with flexibility.  With flexibility, we apply our own experiences in our lives and utilize those practice strategies that we generate on our own.  We need to learn to go with the flow. 

With the concept of impermanence in mind, we need to embrace that our identity may also keep changing according to our life experiences and progression.  With a mindset of impermanence of our self identity, we cultivate freedom in our lives with possibilities and peace.

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