Saturday, November 17, 2012

Change: the only constant.

Nothing endures but change.  Heraclitus

I was thinking about this much talked and written about concept of the constancy of change while driving to work yesterday morning.  It's no less than a fifty minute drive with little traffic.  What triggers the mind to bring particular  ideas to the consciousness remains a mystery to me.  Perhaps it's the music or dialog emitting from the radio.  Maybe it's a product of the stream of consciousness that happens all the time when a person has prolonged periods of monotony such as a long drive.  Today, more than twenty-four hours since that first embryo of an idea took form, I'm trying to recapture and unravel all those thoughts.  It's like picking through a can of wriggling worms.  Each idea slipping away before I can get a good grip on it.  So I guess I'll just start and see if anything coherent morphs out of these random thoughts.

Change is a concept that we all acknowledge if not accept or relish.  Empirically we know that change happens but even at that we try to halt, modify, deny or accelerate change.  A comment that I hear frequently and see far too often on Facebook is: "I can't wait 'til...... (Friday, next week, or month, ad infinitum.")   It grates on me, when I see or hear that phrase, like fingernail scraped on a blackboard makes others cringe.  I think; it's Monday and you want it to be Friday because some pleasant thing is anticipated.  Yet fate has a fatal car crash scheduled for your Wednesday.  I usually remain silent while wanting to scream; enjoy today, the moment.  Friday will come soon enough.  Make the most of now! 

That's not exactly where I wanted to go with this so let's let that squiggly worm go for the time being.  Let's  talk about the irony of this concept of change.  OK, I'll write, you read.  Comments entertained at the end.
Quickly now; we are born and change daily, make that hourly, no by the minute.  If you are a grandparent who observes this phenomena intermittently, say every few weeks, you know what I mean. The accelerated growth between day 1 to 3 months of age is astonishing in all dynamics: weight, length, motor skills and facial expression/personality.  That rapid change is relished by all: parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, and grandparents.  Soon, a few years, so it is by the child themselves.  We've all read those memes about wanting to be older so as to drink legally, drive legally etc. and then say around age thirty decry the fact that we're getting older and try to turn back the hands of time.  The changes  from age thirty on, to say 50 or 60, seem to slow enough as to be able to delude ourselves that  we aren't really any older looking.

Somewhere around age forty for men, probably earlier for women we try varying techniques to stop the clock.  We quit smoking to stop the wrinkling process and to give us more lasting energy with which to exercise   There are spa treatments, gym memberships, salves and youth engendering creams to stop or reverse the process of looking older.  We diet, run marathons, take multitudes of vitamins and nutritional support substances to help us live forever or at least to be healthy 'til we die. There is Rogain and hair dye to let us look young and virile.  And purple pills to keep us erect for four hours or longer (go to the ER?  Are you crazy? and waste this.)  Breast implants, hair plugs  tummy tucks, and face lifts;  the lengths we go to to preserve youth are innumerable.  But change is inevitable and at age 50 or 110 the heart will stop, the brain will falter and we, each in their turn, will die, decompose, decay and lose our youthful looks, figures and exuberance.

All that and no mention of the changes in the environment (global warming), or in technology.  Change is all around us in every aspect of our existence and deny it or embrace t happen it does.  The irony (if that is the correct word) is how we resist change, more and more as we grow older, in order to preserve habit.  A little caveat I've learned to embrace from observation of life's repeat-ability is that the most important mechanism to retain and maintain youth is to embrace change.  Break habits on purpose.  Do more difficult crossword puzzles when the daily ones become too easy.  Learn to play chess.  Learn to win at chess.  learn a foreign language.  Learn 7 foreign languages.  Habit makes us old.

Again I'm rambling.  Not too far from the main topic but rambling non-the-less.

The thought crossed my mind as I was driving to work and contemplating the constancy of change that somethings really don't change all that much if at all.  People still fall in love, lust, infatuation, the same way since before Adam and Eve.  Evil is ever present.  Oh, and lest we forget, those rapid changing babies are still made the same way!  The process by which the spermy impales the eggy may have been modified, but still.... you know; yeah OK 'nuff said.  Humans haven't gotten over the joy of killing each other, and civilizations keep reincarnating but never learning the lessons necessary to prolong and preserve themselves.

And so, even though change will endure, as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, " plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"  (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

There really is Status Quo Bias.  Especially the more past age forty one becomes.


Blogger Helena said...

I have to admit, we do tend to get unsettled (women) hitting the big 4-0 but I can honestly say that I take no part in self-preservation other than Dove soap. Nothing else. I look younger than my twin, but it's down to the fact that that I've never smoked, rarely drink and kept out of the sun. Unlike she.

You've certainly gave us a whole lot for thought, and I do believe that the capacity of the human mind is limited only by the determination of its owner to improve it. As you say - little steps onwards. It's hard to believe we can reason, judge and appreciate but still muck it up!

3:03 PM  

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