6/10/15 The Permanence of Change

Change is the world’s only permanence. Everything else is ephemeral, fleeting. The very terra firma upon which we lay out our foundations is as dynamic and fluid as the water we know to be so. The land seems solid, though that knowledge of its solidity is a falsity since its solidity is based solely on its pace, its patience, its inertia. Sometimes the land gets in a hurry and reminds us that our perceptions are no more permanent than its place.

Everything changes. We change. The people around us change. Our homes change. Our work changes. Our friendships change. Even our political affiliations change as our circumstances change. We live in a dynamic universe….in a very small part of a very large, dynamic universe, which is always changing. We’d better change with it if we can.

Humans get more static as they mature. I used to embrace change. I could see it coming from afar, figure out how to adapt myself to the changes I saw coming since I was powerless to stop them, and fare better than some of my peers for having done so. Resisting change was like resisting the tides, or the sunrise, or the coming rain. To strive against it was to expend too much energy in preservation of something that would soon be worthless; once the old’s new worth was revealed, one had little energy left to invest in the new.

The older we get, the more change we see. The world as we have known it no longer seems to have the space it once did, and it seems determined to force us out. It changes in ways we cannot, or will not, having left us behind as anachronisms, mere artifacts, worthy of being studied by the inheritors of the brave new world which seems to us artifacts to have grown out of control like the beautiful wisteria vines my wife warned me not to plant too near the house. It turns out that half-a-mile away would have been too near the house, but I wouldn’t listen. Now the beautifully fragrant wisteria, manageable for a few years, has metastasized like a malevolent cancer: unwanted growths popping up everywhere, requiring constant surgery to keep the growths removed. When pruned, they are wonderful, but skip a week’s pruning and you may not be able to find your way back to the front porch from the yard. And a nap in the wisteria’s vicinity? Well, it better not be longer than twenty minutes or you will be wrapped in a wisteria cocoon and the only metamorphosis taking place inside it, unlike the caterpillar’s, is your demise, which is exactly how change can destroy the weary. One nap and you wake up to a different world, unrecognizable, all boxed in, locked in, crying to get out, yet no one can hear you or find you in the density that has you trapped.

“The world is changing and not for the better,” said Granddaddy.

“The world is changing and not for the better,” said Papa, my great-grandfather.

“The world is changing and not for the better,” I catch myself saying just like them, perhaps older now than they were when they first said it.

“Can one of you young’uns show me how to use this newfangled thing?” my great-great-grandfather asked as he picked up the receiver on the phone down at the country store, in much the same tone of voice I use when asking my son to show me how to enable some feature on my phone. Phones changed a lot. They are still changing. They have changed so much that instead of merely being a tool I use for my convenience, it has become a tool others use to conveniently manage me. My phone tells others my business. I likely will soon decide that the electroverse is not worthy of my time, especially as the electroverse becomes more invasive.

“The world is changing and not for the better,” I just said to myself.

Except for modern medicine…Modern medicine is miraculous, especially if you have actually been helped by it. Its track record is one of steady progress except for the unchanging statistic of the death rate. 100% of those now living can expect to die in spite of modern medicine. I am not debunking modern medicine…I am still alive because of it, but, as I have said many times, there has never been anything other than modern medicine. Modern medicine, though, has become as complicated as the occidental mind learning to read Chinese.

Speaking of occidental, when did the word “oriental” become a slur? If “oriental” is a slur, then should I feel slighted if someone refers to me as “occidental?” Is “occidental” a slur, too. If not, then why not? If so, then when did it become so? Marco Polo toured the orient. He also toured Asia at the same time. You might refer to him in some of his adventures as the accidental occidental.

Sorry, Asian friends. I do not mean to offend with “oriental.” This occidental just wonders when the world changed so that the word became pejorative.

“The world is changing and not for the better,” I just think to myself, again.

The new world is stealing my words, retiring them faster than my friends are all retiring from their work. Gender specific pronouns are being retired. Gender specific modes of address are losing steam, dissolving in a worldly solvent, a flux, a catalyst. This makes me wonder what will happen to Spanish, which has a core essence of gender specificity. Even inanimate objects are gender specific. How will Spanish change? Will it be required to? Or only the English which is my native tongue?

“I tell you, the world is changing and not for the better,” I have told myself for the last time today, or so I tell myself, kidding myself that I will not say it to myself yet again.

I long for a change that I can embrace, but am not able to find one at the moment. I suppose the change I least long for is for the dynamism of the earth to manifest itself while I am in this Memphis suburb hotel room, closer to the New Madrid fault that is good for terra firma, which can become terra-not-so-firma.

If that happens, I’ll likely not nitpick about oriental phones perplexing my occidental mind. It’ll be change I can understand, but I surely, most assuredly, will not like it one little bit.

I am going to sleep now, and dream of The Andy Griffith Show, or perhaps review any one of several Randolph Scott movies, analyzing in my dream if there was ever more than one plot.

At least Randolph Scott movies never change.

©2015 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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