Thursday, November 26, 2009

Open hands: desiring change & needing sameness.

Most of us are caught in this strange war between desiring change and needing sameness. We want the excitement of a revolution, but we cling to the safety of the status quo. I hate to say it, but from what I see around me, the status quo usually wins. 

A number of my friends have recently been wanting change, but from what I can tell don't seem to be working very hard to make change happen. I see hurt, panic, desperation, complaining and a great deal of suffering, but no movement towards anything new. What appears to stand in the way of change are the pre-conditions and assumptions that the status quo has given us. For example, changing jobs usually is dependent on the precondition of what one earns at one's current workplace. Moving house, as another example, would rely on the preconditions of location, space and cost (to name just a few things).

We attach conditions to change for good reason: change for change's sake is simply pointless. But at the same time, we can impose so many of those preconditions on ourselves and our situations that change becomes impossible. To use changing jobs as an example again: if you hate the environment you're in and get paid a decent salary, you would ordinarily want to move to a workplace that gives you as good a salary but with a better working environment. 
Unfortunately, as often happens, you may not be able to get both. In most cases, as behavioral economists tell us, you would more than likely stay where you're miserable with your acceptable salary: the status quo will more than likely end up winning.

Now, my point about this whole matter is simply this: if you want to receive change, more often than not you're going to need to let go of some things. If you want a Ferrari, you're going to have to let go of a lot of money. If you want to marry, you need to let go of the freedom that singleness gives you. If you want to gain knowledge, you'll need to give up some time with your friends so that you can spend a bit of time reading and studying. If you want to lead a moral life, there are certain behaviours that you will need to change ...

We all have to live with open hands: always expecting to let go in order to receive. In fact, when we live with open hands, the battle between desiring sameness and desiring change turns into a friendly tension that allows us to embrace the best of all possible worlds.

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