On Change

25 03 2006

“All Different Now”

Isn’t it just strange the way everything changes? We live two steps into the future, forcing the ignored past to catch up with us, then time slows down, the past and the pending collide, and suddenly everything’s different. I woke up one morning and I found that change itself has a sliding scale. Mathematically, it’s a second-order derivative; there exists a concrete rate of change for the rate at which things change. In physics terms, we’re talking acceleration or deceleration. Changes are inherently linked to perspective and with that, our concept of time. It’s been proven that our mind can actually function faster than it does, slowing down our perception of time enough that car accidents or knife fights are actually perceived in slow motion.

These collisions of the past and the pending constitute change in the larger sense. Change, by which I mean a significant and perhaps largely unnoticed and subtle change in life, is created when the mind no longer ignores the past, thinks in the present, and understands the transient nature of the future. I’m not sure whether or not these epiphanies can be induced consciously or not, but they do occur. Of course time does not actually slow down, not even necessarily in our minds, but what I’m postulating is that the equivalent occurs subconsciously allowing the brain to process everything sufficiently that it appears to be a sudden consclusion.

Life is motion all moving in every direction but summing up to zero. Imagine, however, that you are alive and that as you age things happen at a fairly predetermined speed. You pass through grade levels year by year, you enter the work force and you get your promotions and maybe eventually a pension, then you retire and die. Motivated people speed it up, apathetics slow it down, but more or less, life is a straight line with a few rough edges. When we notice a significant change in life, it is because (again consciously or not) we ignore the linearity of life and our ability to determine what is to come in exchange for an introspective analysis of what has happened thus far. Our perception of significant changes comes in subtle epiphanies that appear to us as understandings that we’ve always had.

Initially, I spoke about changing this life-rate, that it can accelerate or decelerate. Whether that happens, whether or not you change what tedious events will unfold is up to you; no advice will be written here. I am writing about what I believe ‘is’, not what I believe ‘should be’. There is a unique difficulty in perceiving the past and present when we are changing the course of our lives; being so intent on the future eliminates our peripheral vision. This is an acceleration, where we consciously make efforts to break away from what the timeline has plotted out for us, taking an strong will and intense zeal and focus. Another shift in the change of life is a deceleration, where others impact your life (through accelerations or decelerations of their own), unwillingly forcing you into a separate life track. Though the phrase deceleration has a negative denotation and connotation, deceleration is not always bad. However, it is, by my definition, unintended. Decelerations work like the opposite of an acceleration; rather than inhibit our ability to perceive the past and the present, they tend to slow everything down for us. Sometimes, these events are tragic, like an automobile accident or a knife fight and sometimes they are not. Though both accelerations and decelerations are infrequent and perhaps elusive, they do occur, altering our ability to perceive change.

“I went out in the rain suddenly everything changed,” wrote Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. The Beatles wrote in Yesterday, “suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be”. Change, especially the kinds of change that deal with who we are and where our lives are going, is not always unexpected. We just have a lot of small changes unexpectedly catch up with us. Time slows down, the past and the pending collide.



One response

25 03 2006

Pretty cool stuff Kev. I do not know when you have time to think but it’s very cool that you do take the time to think. I concur!

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