On the complexity of change
Change the lane. Change your life. Work for change. Change is the only constant.
In your head, have you been adding more lines with the word change? Did you hear them? They are used so often and sound like clichés, phrases hollowed out by frequent use. Everything changes; we change everything. I believe that little and large change events are more frequent than the tiny events of talking about change. Maybe that’s why I am writing the blog on the complexity of change?
This imbalance between how very often change happens, is initiated, affects our life at different levels and how less often we talk about change, reflect on it, are mindful of it looks like a problem of perception to me, among other equally important perspectives. So, what are we looking at? Change. The activist and author adrienne maree brown sees two types of change: shocks and slides. She says we should deal with shocks differently than with slides. I believe we perceive them differently, too. Of course, change happens at different levels and strata. Changes in the body, in each of our personal lives, in our close circle, in our community, in society, in this world, and in the universe. As I am writing this in March 2022, rockets with celebreties are shot into near space and some folk book their dwelling lot on Mars, the war in Ukraine has been added to the many atrocities in this world before the pandemic subsided, people of different camps and echo chambers in the US are divided over yesterday’s battles and uncooperation is one factor that drives up prices, traffic density is clogging the streets of San Diego again and people either fear masks or masklessness, relationships in the family are redefined, there is a backlog of work for me not only from COVID, and my hair is getting grayer and thinner and grows more slowly. Do we – do I – perceive change as negative? Not really. We have a negativity bias; we remember negative events, change that we perceive as negative, more and better. Psychologists tell me it is an evolutionary feature we have. It used to help us survive. When we perceive the shocks and slides we perceive them as positive or negative. I often judge – immediately when perceiving. When I take the time to reflect on my perception on a change of a smaller or larger scale, I realize the change itself is neither positive nor negative in and of itself. For me. Buddhists say it is empty. Change – as anything else and both the shocks and slides – is just a container that our mind fills with our individual positive or negative meaning instantaneously when we perceive it. Change does not have such meaning in and of itself. Does this sound strange? It did to me for a long time and it still happens at times. Why? Perceiving of change and filling it with positivity or negativity is such a quick succession, it feels like the change has had that meaning from the very time we noticed it. But it did not. We perceive change first and then our mind imbues it, fills it with meaning. One happens very soon after the other, but there is a short break, a little crack in time. We can use that crack to let the light in, reflect. If you need more time, you can widen the crack by postponing giving any meaning to the change you perceived. And that brings us back to shocks and slides and to how they are perceived differently.
In the next post …