Impermanence and the Twilight Zone

I recently "flashed" on, of all things, how a certain Twilight Zone episode which I had seen many times ("A Nice Place to Visit," with Larry Blyden and Sebastian Cabot) seemed to illustrate the fundamental truth of Buddhism, which is impermanence or change. Of course, we don't like change, especially when the change is for the worse. However, if things always went our way and we had no difficulties, we would soon hunger for change. At first, I thought, "Hmm...I think I could deal with no bad changes." Then I thought of this Twilight Zone episode (my wife and I are Twilight Zone afficionados) where a common thug, played by Larry Blyden, gets shot while committing a crime and then "wakes up" to realize he's now dead. He meets an "angel" in an immaculate white suit, played by Sebastian Cabot, that sets him up in a beautiful apartment with all of his desires (lots of women, money and cars) taken care of. Soon however, the thug gets frustrated because everything is always perfect: The women are all perfect, he never loses at gambling or billiards, things always go his way. After awhile, he's so bored, he tells his "angel" that he'd really rather go to the "other place." The "angel" then lets out a blood-curdling, sinister laugh and says, "This is the other place!"

Of course, we Buddhists don't really talk about "the other place," at least not in the Christian sense. However, this episode, in its own peculiar way, helped me to realize that maybe we don't always know what it is we really want. And that maybe a little "change" isn't so bad after all.

-Peter Hata

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