When Things Change, We Change

The best thing about human beings? Our amazing ability to adapt to change.

We can get used to just about anything changing, us humans, whether we’re doing so happily, or with the reluctance of a moody teenager. Hotter weather, colder weather. From rich to poor, from poor to rich. Traversing the desert by camel, covering that same distance in an aeroplane.

When things change, we change. It’s just what we do.

And whilst this is the feature that enabled us to evolve over millions of years into the mind-blowingly incredible creature we are today, it can also be the cause of great misery if left unchecked.

The problem kicks in when things appear not to change very much for a long time. The longer things stay relatively stable, the more attached we start to become to the way things are. We tell ourselves that how things are right now is the way they are supposed to be, and the way that they are destined to stay forever.

Surely you can see the error in this line of thinking. Because the truth is that your current circumstances are just that – your current circumstances. Anything can happen at any time to change them, sometimes violently so. But there is nothing broken about reality when that happens. You might even say that you were getting extra lucky all that time when things were really stable.

The point is that seeing anything that happens as “not meant” to happen, or thinking that reality has made some kind of a mistake, or singled you out unfairly… it doesn’t help anything.

There is no “this wasn’t meant to happen.” There is only “this happened” or “this did not happen.”

There is no “the way things are supposed to be.” There is only “the way things are” or “not the way things are.”

Right now, the whole world is trying to get its head round something huge. In a matter of weeks, all sorts of things that have appeared stable for a very, very long time have suddenly been up-ended. And like the brilliant humans that we are, we are trying to adapt ourselves to these sudden, massive changes. Because that’s what we do.

We will get through this. And we will be stronger as a planet than we were before. But promise me this: you won’t spend another second speaking of this as something that wasn’t meant to happen, or that we shouldn’t have had to go through.

It happened. And we are going through it.

And we’re going to survive.

“I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent – no-one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.”

Seneca, “On Providence”, 4.3

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