The Fickleness of Change and Our Quest for Permanence
By Syed and Eneha of the 8
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. — Alan Watts
Since its very conception, the universe has wrestled with change, ever expanding yet furiously contracting, reaching out into the dreadful nothingness to fill it with new galaxies, and new stars, and new planets…down to the quantum where the perceived darkness experiences sparks of life. It yearns to undo this state, to return to its very beginning.
Being the children of the cosmos, we are naturally locked in the very same struggle, seeking the comfort of the past in a present that rapidly bleeds into the future, and we try to suture this visceral plunge with attempts at constancy. But, we never succeed. Change is as change was and change will be the likeliest outcome, even in the supposed permanence of death.
We have evolved within and alongside this planet and our kindred species, enduring several millennia of hardships, braving the worst tantrums of a world ever changing, ever reshaping.
Just like the continents that split and tectonics that shift its visage, we have ventured into the vast unknown, further away from those we knew and towards those we wouldn’t want to lose.
In all this time we have somehow tapped into the innate nature of change, and we have come to fear it as our biggest enemy.
We refuse to surrender to the chaotic randomness that decides our fates, rebelling against this acceptance with an order that is fleeting, divining for ourselves greater meaning through greater awareness, giving to an indifferent universe a sense of identity everlasting.
Yet, we are ever growing; moments of our lives encapsulating in memories that act as remnants of a time we cannot revisit, and that is terribly disheartening.
Ever since we are born, we fear the change that drives us from our cribs to the crèches, and from crèches to the schools, and from schools to universities, and from thereon into the chaos of navigating adulthood and surviving in it at the same time. We move houses, we lose family, we fall in love, we find best friends, we fall out with both lovers and friends, and more bluntly so with family over differences that should not matter. And through all this we change, we grow, we mutate into an amalgamation of all our changes.
This disturbs us. Deeply. Change makes us uncomfortable, vulnerable, afraid, guarded, lost. Change makes us want to stay in our bed, stay constant, and hold onto our precious memories with all the emotional might we can muster, and squeeze every ounce of comfort from it, until there is nothing left but numbness and a cold vengeance towards the fickleness of time.
It is natural then that we evolved to dream of a permanence beyond death, where in heaven our greatest desires become constant, and in an eternal loop we experience no pain of loss, no awareness of change. It is easy to understand why its the most successful promise to sell.
It is also understandable why the most fearsome threat is of hell, where our discomforts and pain do not wash away, where we cannot yearn for change anymore, and are stuck experiencing our worst moments.
And it is obvious why purgatory is considered the secret suffering, a place between the finite and the infinite, between the ever present and the ever changing.
And to those who dream of a perfect future through scientific advancement, there are possibilities of our consciousness remaining intact, as our bodies are synthetically ever changing, replaced at the beginning of rot.
But, here, in our waking life amidst our dreams of infinity, we are caught in a spiral of fluidity, and our dichotomous discerning of time and our selves is so maddening that monotony, and repetition become loathsome and tiring.
We want to remain in a state of bliss but we are quickly bored, and no amount of luxury is ever enough, so we crave more. Greed is a child looking to escape from its parents that despairing squabble with each other — none the greater, none the wiser, against permanence and against death.
This informs every aspect of our lives. How we interact with ourselves and with those around us. It shapes our perception of relationships, and the world. In silence this battle is resounding, and the victor is always change.
But, what can we do to calm ourselves, when a lover leaves, or a loved one dies, or when friends go far away beyond the reach of our time? What can we do when we lose our pets, or grow out of our youthful exterior? What can we do when the greatest story we have ever read comes to an end? What can we do when we have to abandon the comfort of our safest spaces and embrace the turbulence of the world out there?
We can cry. We can fight the urge to become the emptiness. We can let our emotions guide our actions towards catharsis, towards closure. We can communicate. We can express. We can hug our loved ones and tell them how much we cherish their existence. We can steal from change these small fragments of eternity. We can accept the duality of all existence, that we have always been and will always be changing, in living and in death, and every atom of our being contributes to the music of the universe, plays its part, that we never die, we never end, that in change itself we are permanent. And that is a calming thought.