Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Change Itself

Change alone is unchanging.
(Heraclitus)

We humans have a paradoxical relationship with change; we welcome it, dread it, fight it, deny it, egg it on, thumb our noses at it ... We tend to perceive and judge change as this Big Thing always outside ourselves; a Thing that sooner or later will pounce ... an X-factor, a wild card, a snarling tiger, the monster under our bed, the bogeyman, the enemy ... The Unknown.

I see change as something akin to gravity: it just is. Change is not a thing; it's a process ... it is simply Life, moving ... Change is the nature of Nature; the ever-shifting ground of being. Sometimes the shifts are subtle, as in Hexgrams 57 (THE GENTLE), 5 (PATIENCE), and 52 (KEEPING STILL). Sometimes we are broadsided, knocked off our feet, stunned by change -- Hexagrams 51 (SHOCK), 28 (EXCESS), and 29 (DANGER) all can indicate a condition of overwhelm and crisis. Sometimes we are called to be agents of change -- Hexagram 10, CONDUCT, invites us to consider how we will act, and Hexagram 32, PERSEVERANCE, advises us to relate and act with a certain trust in the constancy that underlies constant change.  

As I sit here right now, musing and typing, I become aware of so many tiny changes. My thoughts rove through possibilities as my brain composes. My bare feet paddle each other -- a long-time gesture of self-comfort and bodily awareness; I sense a gurgle of hunger in my belly, and a flush of heat sweeps over my skin -- today is a scorcher; my eyes shuttle between the hazy sky, the computer screen, and my teacup. I lick my lips, close and open my eyes while thinking, and I breathe. A fly skitters across the screen of my window; a songbird flashes across the sky on the screen's other side. My eyes blink. I breathe ... I breathe ... I breathe ...

Perhaps our fundamental pivot point of change is the breath. 
Every living being, in its manner of transpiration with Life's basic elements, 
is the changer, the changing, and the changed. 
All at once, all the time.
Can we live more at ease
with this truth?

Even a stone changes, though not to our naked, fleeting eye. Lichen filigrees its minute way across a stone's face ... A single grain of forest soil, borne by a breeze from its recent sojourn in a fallen log's crevice, skitters like a diminutive tumbleweed over the stone; a shaft of sunlight captures the whisking, before shadow and stillness mute earth into earth and another geologic chapter has been written in the long span of a stone's life.

Does a stone breathe? I don't know ... but it acts in perpetual exchange with the world around it. The perpetual exchange of elements with one another is the root of all change here on Earth. We, too, are elements in perpetual relation with all that exists ... whether we are aware of this constancy or not.

As we breathe, we change; every breath is a change. When we choose to be at home with this essential process, we become more at home with change itself; we no longer see it as the dreaded monster under the bed.

We act -- our most basic act is to breathe -- and we are acted upon. Always. Each of us is a change agent -- a catalyst -- just by being.



(Jody Uttal, "Breathe -- You Are Alive")

1 comment:

Marion said...

A gorgeous post, overflowing with wisdom. Thanks for sharing. xo

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