Updated: May 20
All that you touch You change. All that you change Changes you. The only lasting thing is Change. ~ Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
I agree with this statement. Change is the only lasting truth. Everything is included. Not a single thing is exempt.
But I am obsessed with that which might be exempt. I WANT things to be exempt from change.
I want to stop change. I do not accept it, except when I want it. I do not allow it, except when I believe it will make my experience/self/ideas somehow better/easier/more tolerable/more respectable. I want to banish change that insists on happening without my control and/or will. I'm not sure if this is really true, because I also surrender to change. Alas, the word "surrender" does not have a positive reputation (except in some spiritual circles, where it is intended to imply spiritual superiority and moral ascent).
No, mostly I want to be the one who dictates when/how/where/to what change takes place. I want to be in control of change. I panic, feel terror, anxiety, despair, dislocation, confusion, when I am not in control of change.
I also feel those same things when I believe I have managed to prevent change for a while and then I realize that I was wrong because now even my own mind and perception of things is completely changed.
Take this quarantine for an example. I went into lock-down mid-March. I stopped going outside of my home except to a very limited number of places outdoors: walks in certain nearby parks, drives out to certain nearby parks, and drive-by visits to my parents' place to chat from the front yard. A regular daily routine with my family (three children, partner, and a cat) emerged, with some variation from weekday to weekend. We have become accustomed to this way of living. After an onslaught of change at the beginning of the pandemic, everything has begun to appear to stay the same.
And still, it all feels and seems so totally different today than it did a week ago, or three weeks ago or even a few days ago.
The inner landscape changed. The way I see the same kitchen table is different today. The way the living room appears to me is different. I see the cat differently. Each of the people I live with are so different to me. I am different to me.
It doesn't matter how diligently I write everything down. I can't even understand what I was thinking a few days ago.
It is utterly exasperating.
(My favourite chair is different because the cat puked on it. The phone case on my phone is different because it's wearing out through quarantine-scrolling.)
I am recording these thoughts right now in part because it surprises me that I would try to somehow stop all of this unstoppable happening.
I have a suspicion I know why I want to stop it all. I want to stop it all because it means that death is coming. Change means death, eventually and without a doubt. Not yet, perhaps. But it's coming.
Change means constant progression towards my ending, the endings of other people I really like and love and want to keep in my life, the endings of my cat and my plants, and the endings of my children. Change means endings, and even though there are beginnings, the beginnings are not known...the things that are beginning are not familiar and comfortable...
Change means the things I don't want to end will end. I don't seem to like this very much. Is that a failure of character on my part? Am I too weak and unwise? Did I fail at emotional maturity? My cat likes to switch the places where she sleeps. I don't know why she does this, I know I couldn't do it so easily... I would wake up disoriented and not know where I am, which would cause alarm and might even ruin my day.
Why is the brain so comfortable with sameness when change is actually utterly unstoppable? Whose idea is it to evolve such a brain? What is the meaning of this?
I have a theory.
Change - the constant movement in the external and internal and the space/relationship between the two, in the dynamics between all things and all processes - is what we call Life. There can be no Life - no electric charge, no chemical exchange, no unfolding, no closing down - no life without something changing.
Change even continues after the dying... So the dying isn't actually an end to Life, (though it might be an end to my personal awareness of things...).
Seems to me that change really is all there is.
And I cannot be here right now (sitting in the same spot on the same couch, thinking and typing these thoughts) any other way except to be change myself.
Photo Credit (c) 2020 Tosia Wolska-Chaney