Saturday, November 28, 2015

"Change and staying the same"

I have loose change in my pocket
I change lanes on the freeway
The leaves change color in the fall
I change my mind
I change the oil in my car

Water changes from gas to liquid and sometimes solid

We are surrounded by change - living without change would be static and deadly.  How do you feel about change - it is part of life that you enjoy or does it tend to bring  anxiety?  Do you seek change or avoid it?
Yikes! - which way should I go?
There are all kinds of change - There are those changes we choose...
When we get married, when we move, when we start college... these are huge events in our lives.  Each of them can be the most wonderful times in our lives - but they also involve adjustments - stress - as we adapt to what is new.

Choice has real force - and results in impact
There are also change that are imposed on us... Adapting to wind, flood or fire, going through boot camp, undergoing surgery, getting mugged... these changes often have a much lower "wonderful" index and a much higher "stress" index. 

I remember going off to college - I had completed 2 years in a community college, just finished my summer job spraying mosquitos in the San Joaquin valley, loaded my car, told my Mother good bye... and off I went to San Francisco State University.  I was scared, wildly excited, and nervous - I wanted to succeed, but I was a small town 'valley boy' with very limited knowledge of the wider world.  Thus began a 2 year period of great changes for me was I learned to adjust to dorm life, college level expectations, making life decisions, learning new social patterns previously not part of my life.  

Sometimes change is slow - one grain of sand at a time
Sometimes it was bewildering.  Sometimes it was wildly elating, and through it all I not only survived and in the process learned to live in what to me was a "strange new world".  I learned not only in the classroom but in the City Lights Bookstore of San Francisco - in the Yet Wah restaurant of Chinatown, visiting the homes of my fellow College students, in the apartments of independent living students, and in endless conversations with people who had very different life experiences than me...

The plants have no choice - they simply carry out the instructions coded on their DNA - but they do experience change
I discovered that Thomas Wolfe was correct when he said - "You can never go home again..." ; meaning that once you have had new experiences and new insights you can never return to the way you lived and felt before.  I am immensely thankful for this time in my life - would I want to go back and relive those years again? For me that would be a tough question...  it was a time of the joy of learning and new experiences... but it was also the most stressful time in my life. 

rapid change = great explosive change
Which brings me to the second type of change - the Paradigm shift. This is a dramatic change in the way you or I see and interpret something.  It totally changes ones  approach to the way you view a phenomenon. Copernicus had such a shift when he suggested that the earth is not at the center of the universe but instead the sun is. When I come to see that the crust of the earth is made of moving geological plates  rather than a totally fixed earth. A big one for me was recognizing  the evidence for the origin of life by natural selection and a continuous on-going evolution of life.  
Personal paradigm shifts happen when I change my love or dislike of another person based on new evidence.  Our idea about ourselves can change dramatically based on new insight, growth, and experience.    Also the insight that comes from conversions to new ideas, new religions, new loves would be examples of paradigm shifts.    Some shifts are instantaneous and some shifts we can resist and fight  for months or years before we come to accept them.  They have to emerge in their own time.
"Change for me is dictated by culture and nature"
Many paradigm shifts come about due to a perceived disconnection in our lives... this disconnect is like an itch that wont go away... One of my disconnects was a growing awareness that my early religious training did not prepare me for the scientific and social realities that I was encountering in my life. I underwent a paradigm shift when I discovered the works of Marcus Borg, John Spong, John Dominic Crossan, & Karen Armstrong... and through them all, and through conversations with others struggling with the same issues I found a different approach that feeds me, resolves my conflicts, and helps me to better understand what it means to "Seek justice, Love mercy, Walk humbly with your God following the example of Jesus."  This isn't about getting 'holy' and 'sanctimonious' its about my own struggle to feel honest with myself.

Change in an afternoon 
Then there are changes imposed on us from outside - responding to world events - responding to mass movements swirling around us... Do we go along with the crowd or do we think for ourselves...but the power of "group think" can be seductive... It can be hard to buck the tide...  Think what it feels like to join a group of protesters who stand for something for which you believe but its outside the existing system. 

Change from wave action
I remember when I was young, changing my political identify  from the Republican views of my family to identifying as a Democrat.  Every election raises the possibility of changing our government.  I have heard it said that the only reason we don’t have our government overthrown ( as seems to happen to many other lands) is because no matter what we are always only 4 years from a new election. 

Light patterns - ever changing

water enters cracks - freezes - pry the stock apart -after many repeats - the rock falls 

Now the control of group think is an industry  designed to get us to change our toothpaste, our pain relief, what we eat and drink, which candidates we support, what cars we drive, whether we believe in the clean use of coal, the Transamerica pipeline, solar and wind power...The changes we make are becoming harder and harder to make based on our own thinking... That's scary!
Change from cultural mental image to rock petroglyph

Then of course there are changes that come about from unintended consequences - they are the scary ones - you plan well - think 'everything' through - then when you implement you plan - Whoops - where did that come from?