Change is a big buzz word. People fear it, people love it, people embrace it, people resist it. In fact, we all probably feel/have felt the above about change.
Today while walking, I was thinking about all my molecules, buzzing around within me. Skin cells dying and new ones growing with each step and breath I take. Essentially, on an anatomical level, we are constantly changing. People say “the only constant is change”. But what people don’t talk about as much is adaptation.
I won’t reach for the Oxford, let’s just think about this ourselves, rather than referring to someone else’s take on the matter.
Perhaps we can begin with the body. As cells die, so new ones grow. It isn’t a matter of CELL A IS DEAD! GENERATE B! It is more gradual, and far more natural. There is a process of cell death, and a process of cell generation. There is of course a point at which a cell is dead, but a lot happened before it got to that point. When it died, we would consider that “change”. But everything that lead up to that point is adaptation. So change is in fact the visible end-of-the-line effect, if you will. Adaptation is everything else.
People gun for change. “CHANGE YOUR LIFE!”, motivational speakers yell from soap boxes wearing expensive suits being paid far too much to inspire people into paralysis. I feel a different tune humming within me: Allow awareness about adaptation.
If we stop FIGHTING for change, DEMANDING it to be RIGHT NOW, wanting complete 180 degree turnaround, we may just get the change we seek. Even doing something in this very moment that may seem like 180 degrees from where one was going just one moment ago, is the outcome of an enormous amount of internal adaptation that it took to get to that point. Wanting and longing for change is one thing, but beginning to see the adaptations that lead to even that wanting and longing water those seeds to help them grow faster into visible change.
I think adaptation is the journey, and change is the/one of many destination/s. In a world of motivational posters and constantly-shared words by someone-or-other that have likely been said to varying degrees by millions of others all over the world, “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” is one of our time’s most popular, and yet societal obsession with change is in direct contradiction with this. Any major movement, even if it seemed to begin with a world-changing speech or a courageous (or unthinkable) action, has been brewing through largely unconscious (and perhaps also subconscious) adaptation.
This leads me to consider the option that when we get frustrated and feel like we desperately need change, when we feel despondent and are not sure how we can go on as things are, that there are adaptations happening that indicate growth. We are no longer able to accept being treated a certain way, we no longer take the same road, we take or reject the new job offer, we start/end the relationship, we buy/don’t buy the ticket. I wonder, if we were more aware of the smaller, subtler adaptations within us, would we be leading the charge for change as hard? Perhaps, because we may realise that we were ready for that change earlier. But the value remains, due to the fact that increased self-awareness can only be of benefit to one’s own health and thriving, and therefore also the world. This view helps any change to be seen as the ‘next step’ in adaptation in that area, and in that way, apparent revolution is in fact just the visible, obvious aspect of evolution.
So I challenge myself as well as all readers to inquire internally: What adaptations are we perhaps missing in our own lives? What areas can we see subtle shifts beginning? What might their message to us be? If we are aiming for the end point, could we perhaps be wearing blinkers and not seeing how our internal and external environment and scenery is adapting, like on a travel journey, towards the change that we know is coming (even if we don’t know what it’ll look like)? If we are desperate for change in a particular area, are we really sure that is where we are going, and can we track back to see how we have adapted/are adapting, to perhaps re-direct slightly or to acknowledge the growth? Are there any areas in which we can let go of the fight, and recognise that there really is adaptation happening, and that a cell cannot die before it is dead, and a new one won’t just regenerate before its time?