Sunday, August 28, 2005

Changesbethel

"The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it."
Meditations

I had a History professor that described his craft as being "the study of change--over time," complete with pause and an additional Nigerian accent. That quote is the only information I took from that class, having failed it miserably, and it often gives me cause to devle deeper into my everyday thinking.

A buddy of mine recently visited after having been away for a good while, and his own homeward observations were a bit startling. The buzzword of his article was change, a word whose meaning increased in vagueness (like most words do) when repeated within a short span of time. It lead me to wonder what change meant, not only to him, but to myself. He said people had not changed whereas he had, but he never specified what changes had occured to him, leaving the possibility for interpretation wide open. Physical change? Economic? Emotional? Psychological? Political? Sexual? What qualifications specify a change, and what is the foundation he bases his critique on? That is, what does he consider change?

I guess this is where I shall try to define the term, though I promise it will be useless and without much meaning. The problem with saying something has or has not changed is that change itself is completely relative. On a quick skim of a person in front of me, all I could judge would be how much that person has changed from how I remember them being. But that does not mean that person is not different from when I last saw them. To truly find out how much a person has changed, I would have to sit and spend time with him/her, to converse and compare, gather data then compare notes at the end of the day. So, I would say change is the evaluation of a person's personality and examining the differences between the most recent point of interrogation and the last one.

But that's still not right, for to acknowledge that a change has occurred in your life, does that event need to be seconded by a second party? No. Change is whatever you want it to be. To every single person there is their own set of criteria for a gradation of change, those that determine small changes (such as eating cantaloupe for breakfast instead of Frosted Mini Wheats) to large (I think I'll change my name to Kunta Kinte and live for a year in silence). Change isn't only what is noticeable, but that which remains inside which counts for as much as anything else.

I would like to think that there is a gradation of change. As youths, people are 'looking for themselves', we are trying to find a way to be comfortable in the life around us. As we age and we find that comfort zone, I think that the change that we knew as youths would shrink away, because we are comfortable in our adult lives and our yearly processions are marked only by little, personal changes that probably affect us more than the 'large' changes of our youth. It could also be in the way we handle these changes, or the obstacles that cause us to change. Those who have grown comfortable will be able to "change" in stride and, as a matter of course; the "change" wouldn't be as noticeable as it would be in an unprepared younger person.

Everybody has hidden facets that won't be (or shouldn't be) revealed. Everybody is private to an extent, even those as shallow as a dinner plate. The funny thing is, I had reminisced during my friend's visit, relished even, in the fact that he had not changed at all since I first met him in the seventh grade. He was still the same guy I had always known and it was a comfort to know that underneath all the overt changes that happen to a person, that he would always be my good friend, a buddy I could always counting on being himself. So now, I'm actually interested to see what these big changes in his life are and if I would consider them to be "big changes" or if he's just acting in character, doing the things that makes sense within the limits of his personality (as I know it).

I don't know if the people my friend ran into had changed or not, but that's not the point. I think maybe he was hoping they hadn't because he felt his life was getting a bit unstable, or "full of changes". Or maybe he was projecting his fears at becoming stagnant onto the lives of those who he only sees in short, distanced intervals. The thing is that we're all changing whether we want to or not, or whether those close to us want us to or not, it's always happening. Big or small, people change everyday. My life changed a lot when my girlfriend's mother suddenly died, my life changed a little when I got straight A's last quarter. But what I can't change is the overly didactic, maniacal tone of this Boast of Bethel--I'm sorry and I'll stop now.

11 comments:

andy said...

Quick, gentlemen. Put the fire out before this old man burns to death.

It is easy to focus on the most obvious. It is easy to see people and focus on what is the same. It is easy to contrast the things that have changed about yourself with those things that have stayed the same for everybody else.

It's not a negative thing, really. Part of it could be attributed to my desire for things lost. Like stability. The ability to tell somebody that I'll have time to be with them a week from today. The chance to look at your life and know what you'll be doing ten days from now. I imagine it is similar to what some people face at the end of college. The uncertainity. The confusion. It can be maddening.

The problem is that this situation has been thrust upon me not because of my inability to act or because of the uncertainity of the world. This problem stems most directly from my foolish willingness to do what I thought was right. I believed the lie and now I pay for it. I have no life, but rather drift unchained in a morass of madness.

Maybe I just look at others and am astonished that nobody else has had to pay this price. Maybe I convinced myself that what I go through is what everybody goes through. Then why can I not see it? Why does my situation seem singular to me and those currently around me?

Again, it is the life, the unfortunate curse, that I chose. And now I pay for it. If anything, I can stand as a grim reminder to others. A reminder of what, I am not sure. But a reminder nonetheless.

DCVB said...

Darn it--I was hoping to get you all fired up so we could have an intellectual firefight not unlike the one Eben and I had over Tim Burton and his daddy issues.

As is the problem with my writing ability, my main message I think gets lost in the most adversarial parts of my posts. I hope I don't sound like I'm calling you out, but instead used your blog post, and the subsequent emotions it stirred in me, as a catalyst to an investigation into the question: "what is change, anyway?"

That was the point I was trying to get across, and I apologize for vilifying you in any way. You are one of my closest friends and you know I would do nothing to try to jeopardize that.

The Phoenix said...

Wow, this is almost sort of personal...I feel like I'm barging in on a private conversation.
The hell with it.
I have changed in little and big ways...I can't begin to know the expirience of change on anyone else.
Most of all...
I need to change out of my uniform. I need to change into my pajamas. But most of all, I need to change from a sober person to a not sober person, and then watch cartoons.

Eben said...

A twit once told me in the midst heat of a firey argument with a pyschopath, "Bro, none of us have changed since high school."
This was coming from the guy who in high school was a hippy with long hair and wore tye-dye almost everyday. That day he said that, he was wearing a polo shirt and had cut his hair to conform to his yuppie lifestyle.
I'm not sure you can define change since it deals mostly in personal perception.

DCVB said...

Well, Eben, I think that's what I basically say in the post when I say I want to define it, but the attempt would be a "useless" one and ultimately "without much meaning." I go on to give up, saying "change is whatever you want it to be," which pretty much puts us on the same page.

Geez, Eben...you never change.

My dictionary (the American Heritage Dictionary) defines change in one word: alter. But then again, it later defines it as "the giving or receiving the equivalent of (money) in lower denominations or in foreign currency."

So, change is relative, I think we can all agree on that. Change is a rainbow of possibility, and like a piece of modern art, up for an infinite amount of interpretations. Now...let's change the subject.

andy said...

In the future, I'll just make my blog posts to read something to the effect of "I hate my life" instead of decorating them with fancy observation.

Eben said...

I read your boast, Dan and I was just reinforcing your Boast with a little piece of personal experience.

At the end of your boast, it says "leave a comment" not "prepare a rebuttal."

:)

DCVB said...

Maybe I can change that.

All right, all right. I'll get off my high horse. I kind of wish this whole post would disappear.

DCVB said...

Oh, Andrew. I kid because I love. Your post inspired thought and insight and was an awesome start to a great blog. Everybody must see your blog and future website because they are awesome.

Andrew is my friend.

Ryan said...

Hey, can I be mad at Dan too? Dan, you're not my friend anymore and you smell like diapers.

DCVB said...

I hate me even more than you do, Ryan, Andrew, Eben, God.