All is Constant, All is Change

A transcript of this video:

Which was made for a patron at my Patreon page:

“All is constant, all is change. What that all about then?

This is my strapline at YouTube, and has been from the start. It might seem enigmatic, but it’s an attempt to sum up the way I think, explore and feel things out. As with any relatively simplistic statement it fails to achieve that. Perhaps it’s more food for thought than the provision of an answer, so being asked what I mean is an excellent challenge. Can I explain and describe it succinctly and clearly? You may be able to tell me after watching this video.

Many of us seek specific, clear and fixed answers to life, or to the problems and issues it presents. What is not tends to be jammed to fit into structures and systems where it does not truly belong. This ranges from the most pragmatic, like the bodies we inhabit, to the beliefs we have concerning our own constancy, more ephemeral beliefs we have or mind maps we’ve created for ourselves due to life experience.

In part this is due to our need to feel we can predict the physical nature of reality and keep ourselves safe, but also to protect ourselves from the great unknown, from a fear of ceasing to exist, or suffering, or loss. Yet having this linear or binary notion misses out so much of reality as to leave us helpless and adrift or to behave in ways which do neither us nor those around us any good at all.

Both constancy and change coexist at all times. Though constancy can only be measured in terms of slow change, even taking into consideration that the physical universe tends to behave in fairly predictable ways. The variables are so many that in order to be able to predict these with any level of accuracy requires us to understand a massive complexity of factors and the coming together of various elements and influences.

The more ‘simple’ matters, such as our bodies requirements for survival and well being, or the sun rising every morning and setting every evening, are also in constant flux, either in a cyclical way, or in the rise and fall of our biology and the influences of the ageing process, or of our genetics and the external influences which have played a part in our existence. But even these cycles have a beginning and an end, whether you’re looking at a human or a solar system. That it seems constant is only due to our relatively short lifespans and the senses we have to perceive it.

Even our certainties may be pulled out from under our feet when we least expect it, or we may cling to apparent certainties which actually cause us to sabotage our best interests.

In many ways that’s understandable. It’s a lot easier to live with a fixed set of beliefs about what will keep us out of trouble (or in it if that’s our preferred modus operandi), feeling righteous, and not having to make too much effort to look at each and every situation. But it’s not realistic, and often it’s not helpful either. A level of uncertainty or openness to new information is important, and that includes the ability to accept one’s personal sense of reality and constancy may be far from complete, and that change or the incorporation of more understanding is almost invariably helpful.

Change and constancy are not at odds with one another, as it may appear. They operate in tandem, are part of the same spectrum, are not a this or that. Constancy and change go hand in hand in pretty much every aspect of life.

The fundamentals of all talking therapies include the notion of exploration, understanding, development, and change. Of looking at that which has been assumed to be fact and applied to life in general, ascertaining whether it can be so globally applied, or whether it pertains to the specific situations where it originated alone. In other words whether the assumption regarding the constancy of human behaviour can always be extrapolated to all life.

This is largely in the belief it will protect from further harm, but can actually have the opposite effect, by causing us to look at others in a biased or unrealistic way, or for us to have diminished or faulty beliefs about what we are and aren’t capable or worthy of. It can be easily identified with the tendency to say ‘all (insert any group here) are like this’. Not only is that never the case, but it leaves us engaging with a mirage rather than a reality.

I’m as prone to this as anyone else. It’s natural to learn from periods in our lives which leave scars or lasting effects and be keen to avoid a repeat performance. But most of you will also know at least one person, maybe including yourself, where the desire to avoid these repeats causes us to somehow walk straight into them endlessly. There are a host of reasons as to why this happens, and it would make this video too long to fully explore them. Fundamentally, we become blinkered by false lessons, assumptions or partial understanding. We see constancy where it doesn’t exist, we impose that on our reality, and jam anything seeming to relate into it. We then become the master of our own downfall. We create the self fulfilling prophecy, so can say ‘See? I told you that always happens’. Yet the common denominator, the constant in this scenario, is generally us. And a power lies in that knowledge.

Caution, avoidance of certain situations which are harmful are valuable. Knowing that plunging your hand into a fire is going to burn you is helpful. But this can rarely be applied to all of human interaction in the same sort of way. Looking at what you believe about life and whether those lessons learned are actually applicable in all situations can be liberating. Every difficult situation offers an opportunity for greater understanding, but the key is in discerning what there is to be learned, and adjusting accordingly.

A visual illustration of this could be a light painting. See here. This image exists, yet what is contained within the image never did. The movement of the light gives the appearance of something solid and real. You know it isn’t, yet it looks as if it is. These lessons we learn about life can be very similar. We draw together various experiences, bits of information, emotional responses, and then behave as if it’s a solid reality, even though we kind of know it’s not. Daring to explore that doesn’t nullify anything. Any pain or wounding we may have as a result of that experience isn’t invalidated, but it can be seen as only applying to the situation where it originated. Then we can permit similar experiences into our lives without predicting a repeat performance of what went on before. Caution is wise, treating everyone as if they’re the same is not.

Change is the nature of life. That is constant, though not at a constant pace or in a constant way. How well we engage with the apparent constant and the endless change has a huge impact on how well we flow with life, and how effectively we meet our own potentials, or are able to encourage that in others.”



Riding the wind

The wind is getting up, again. 75 mph winds predicted. It’s quite exposed here. What amazes me the most, at this moment anyway, is how the birds seem to manage to negotiate it. From the tiniest to the largest (which is quite a difference round here) they take to the skies. Because they have to to survive. What masters of the air they are! I see them flashing past the windows at speed, carried by the wind, focussed on riding it and arriving at the destination they set out for. That’s quite some skill.

A couple of winters ago I saw a seagull airsurfing. He stayed in the same position, aloft, for ages, making tiny minor adjustments to his wings and body to stay there. Then, he misjudged and the wind took him. What was especially interesting was that he circled around and came back to the same spot, to repeat the experience, which he did for some time. He was as expert a surfer as any of those who ride the sea there, and it’s one of the most challenging and dangerous beaches in Cornwall.

This reveals two things to me:

1 We underestimate other creatures, by a long way. Or perhaps better stated we overestimate ourselves.

2 Times are windy, stormy. We cannot avoid that reality. But how do we deal with it? Do we do our best to learn the art of difficult flight? Or resort to other behaviours which seem, from this perspective, delusional and harmful?