Every day we act, albeit mostly unconsciously, to recreate the day before. With the same habits, commute, and routine always adding up to something new. No matter how hard we try though, our days are different. In a world striving for repetition, all we can achieve is change. Our realities are messy, complex and above all fragile.
I want you to think back over the last week – concentrate on each day. Were any two really the same? Sure there might have been similarities – shifts at the same time, fixed appointments, tasks and chores you needed to get done. Your life next week will be different compared with this week as it was to last week. It might not be any better but it’s still not the same. Even the process of following our routine produces change over time – whether it’s our choice of diet, an exercise routine or in my case simply the cumulative effects of bad posture. Think of how Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day takes up piano lessons and progresses rather amusingly from complete novice to an apparently first-time virtuoso. It is the semblance of sameness from which change itself can stem.
We take our cues from our highly fallible and selective memories to get us through our days. Our memories and instincts are like an evolutionary rough guide for survival – collapsing our sum total of experiences and differences into a shorthand set of instructions for what we need to do next. In such an environment change is a potential threat and our realities form from a set of falsely secure assumptions so we can get what we need done. It is here we conflate the inevitably (from a human time-scale point of view) of the physical and natural world with the inevitably of the human community we construct and reconstruct each day.
There is a gap between the complexity of our experiences and the memories of those experiences. But there is another gap; between the complexity of reality itself and our ability to experience it. We don’t see reality with our eyes but a simplified translation of it – complete with blind spots and short-term memory to string together a coherent visual experience. We are forever simplifying our experience of reality. There is a difference between what you see and the reality of what is around you. For example, when you order your coffee at the same time at the same place each day you don’t naturally perceive that our solar system has travelled nearly 20 million kilometres around our galaxy from one order to the next.
In order to survive and make do we simplify reality – where change is ignored or a threat. This makes change, even when we want it, appear a much more distant or improbable prospect than it really is. And for those of us who are actively seeking change in the world, it means the arrival of new tools, campaigns, strategies and organisations can be seen as a threat.
No system of control and uniformity lasts forever. There is only change.
Change is inevitable and yet it surprises us when it arrives.
Solidarity to the people of #Ferguson.
Solidarity to the people of #Gaza.
Solidarity to the people of #Scotland.