Friday, October 14, 2011

everything changes ... so?

I suppose there will always be someone to whom the scientifically-verifiable suggestion will seem both novel and useful: Everything changes.

I can remember sitting in a college philosophy class when the observation first crossed my bow. And I was blown away. I thought I had found the answer to everything. Everything was explained. I was delighted in the way any uncertain young person might be: I had The Answer. Of course, after the delight had abated a bit, I realized that if everything changed, that meant my relationship with my then-girlfriend would change and it made me nervous. "True love never dies," right? But everything-changes put me on notice that if I wanted to cling to The Answer, I would have to pay the piper and things would not always be a cakewalk.

Yesterday, a friend of mine, a former psychiatrist, sent me a copy of a small talk she had given about accepting uncertainty. I have no doubt that there were some in the audience who may have been as blown away by her observations as I had been in my philosophy class. How about them apples?!

But the wowsers of ingesting The Answer at an emotional and intellectual level does not still the uncertain human heart. The Answer does not, in the end, really answer the question, "So how does anyone find peace within that so-called answer?" My friend pointed out aptly in her talk that creating a god is speculative at best. Nihilism is too easy ... and still the peace is lacking. Everything changes, but where's the peace such an observation might imply?

Everything changes. Woo-hoo! Now what?

Anyway, I felt compelled to write back to my friend and make the observations above. What the fuck good is The Answer if nothing is answered ... though I didn't couch my note in such language. Where would her psychiatric business have been (she's retired now) if The Answer were all anyone needed?

The only action that I can see that makes much sense in the face of such a compelling observation is to exercise the patience and willingness to look into it. If everything changes, then I change ... all the time. And if that is true, who the hell am I? Stories of heaven and hell, gods and demons, philosophies spun to a fare-the-well ... that's all fluff. Really, who am I if who I am is constantly on the move, changing from one thing to another?

I can't say that I'm much interested in those who announce their surprise and delight at discovering there is a slippery slope (just as I once did). I am more interested in those who take up the challenge and express the courageous willingness to be mistaken when climbing it.

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