Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, writing around 500 BCE said that the only constant in life is change. Benjamin Franklin said that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Both men are correct in some ways. Life is constantly changing and evolving. Life is never sitting still but is constantly on the move. I recently did a funeral for a 95 year old man named Joe. Joe was definitely someone who valued change. He was an engineer who designed things. And he certainly saw many changes during his life. He saw how the early planes evolved into jets, which involved into things like the Concorde. Joe saw how tv's became a popular device in each home. He watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Joe was amazed at how the first computer which was in his office took up a whole room and now everybody could access similar information from a phone they kept in their pockets. Life was extraordinarily different from the time Joe was born to the time he died. Some changes were good things. Other changes were bad things. But the one thing Joe came to realize was that change was inevitable.
One television show that I enjoy watching is Love It or List It (both the original and the Vancouver edition). In the show a couple has to make a choice between their renovated and redesigned home or a new to them house. Each week the couple needs to decide what their priorities are, what things are holding them back, and what their dreams are. Each week the couple needs to put aside their differences and decide this is where we shall live. The show is always dealing with the concept of change. What is a good change and what is a bad change? What is more important memories and the familiar or having that extra half bath with a skylight and heated ceramic floors?
Some people are very resistant to change. They hold on to memories of the past. They are unwilling to let go. They are not readily willing to try new things because they are comfortable with the old, scared to make a mistake, reluctant to forget the past, and not willing to rock the boat. Life may not be perfect now, but if we do things the way we have always done them, then at least we are sure how such things will turn out. But these folks risk falling behind. They risk becoming out of date. And they risk looking at the past with rose coloured glasses. So and so was not quite the saint that we remember her as. The 1950's were not as wonderful as "Leave it to Beaver" suggests.
Some people seemingly love change. They all too readily see the problems of today. And so they jump at change. They barge in, alter things, make mistakes, dust themselves off and try again. There were problems in the past, so lets get rid of the past and move towards something different. These folks run the risk of being too easily led by the latest technology. They run the risk of not learning from other's past mistakes. They seem to others to flit from the next best thing to the next best thing. They seem to have no regard for tradition, for memory, for honouring those who have died.
I guess in thinking about change, I would like to put my two cents in.
Change is a constant. I think in order to live we need to constantly evolve.
Change is scary. It means having to let go. It means taking risks. It means uncertainty.
Change is neither good or bad. That is to say that some change is good (thank goodness for modern medicine which is able to treat illnesses that previously killed so many people). Some change is bad- climate change for instance has had disastrous effects on our world. I think change is neutral, but how we react to new realities is most important.
Memories are good to have. But if they are preventing you from living for today then they are not so good. Also remember, what someone else might remember fondly, might be remembered as a disaster by someone else.
All of us need to walk that fine line. We need to honour the riches of the past. These riches are the building blocks of who we are. But at the same time, we must be willing to let go and try something different. To be too rigid is problematic. To be too flighty is also problematic. Where will you draw the line? Blessings.