The word change is so multifarious and versatile that it can be both physical and notional. Besides, we are continuously changing too–evolving, growing or declining, as is everything around us, all the way from the mundane to the profound. Our ice cream melts, we grow older, our favourite dress fades, we move homes, we lose a loved one, a baby is born in the family – all are changes, which affect us in big or small ways. While we can control some external changes (switch on the AC when it turns hot), and some internal ones (learn to control our mercurial temper), there are many changes over which we have little or no control.
If there is indeed so much change around and within us, why do we cry that we ‘badly need a change’? I think that most of the time the hankering is just for a break/vacation/holiday. We deceive ourselves into thinking that once we come back from that much longed-for break, our mundane life would somehow change for the better! Of course, it doesn’t change anything unless our attitude towards things has changed miraculously over the vacation.
Change affects people differently depending upon their attitude towards it in particular and towards life in general. Which is why, one person might feel recharged after a vacation to face the challenges of life and another might be stressed. Quite possibly, such people might be unable to even enjoy the holiday thinking about their impending return to the monotony of their routines. For such people, any break or ‘change’ would futile, besides being a waste of money.
Which is why any break or vacation needs to be taken for itself and not to get away from a boring routine or some undesirable situation.
Well, so much for a change of scene. I know people who thrive on change, but that kind of change has more to do with possessions, places, jobs and even relationships. They are restless and unable to settle down at one thing. And I’m sure that far from being happy or satisfied with their flitting from one thing to another, they are in fact dissatisfied deep down. They quickly get bored with whatever new thing they had sought and got and start looking for something else.
What about other changes, in one’s circumstances, for instance? A personal loss; a windfall; relocating; a natural calamity that turns one’s world upside down? These also affect different people differently. While some might never be able to recover from the effects, others might come to terms with them after the initial shock/grief in due course of time.
Change has often been the only constant in my life. I pride myself on being able to adapt to changes without much effort and there have been many changes, some of which would qualify as cataclysmic, believe me. Even for someone who is used to change, so much change can be unsettling.
Let me take moving/shifting, for instance. If we were not shifting cities, we were shifting houses. At first, I found it exciting, settling in the new house, getting used to new neighbours and exploring the neighbourhoods. I used to think that the changes provided for varied experiences and gave me the freedom to choose where I lived, not being tied to a place. The children found it exciting till they began resenting having to leave behind best friends and familiar surroundings – that is if we stayed in one house long enough!
Though we are not yet done moving still, I have noticed a subtle change in my attitude towards the activity. Perhaps ‘moving fatigue’ or growing years have caught up with me. I notice that this has also influenced my attitude towards other changes.
It must have been gradual because I can’t say exactly when or how it began. From enjoying the thrill of moving, I slowly began looking for small constancies around me that I found comforting. Among other things, is a small organiser that holds knick-knacks and an old Brylcreem jar where I put my small change. Both have accompanied me on all my moves for nearly three decades now. Among the comforting ‘constants’ is also my daily routine, which may appear boring to many.
I have changed so much that today I can find change just looking out of my window. No, not at the changing seasons. In the previous house, there was a papaya tree that was so tall, its top was the height of my window on the third floor! I had never seen a papaya tree that tall in my life. It never failed to thrill me with its green and yellow fruits. My only regret was that it was too far for me to reach out and pluck!
In this house, there is a window (there are several, but I like this one the best), which faces a very tall champa tree. I notice the minute details: the leaves I had seen the day before had changed colour, the elusive bloom I had spotted with so much difficulty a couple of days ago was not there, but another one had bloomed a foot away! I sigh. That is the fragility of life – we don’t know whether we are going to be around the next day or even the next moment. We pass on when our turn comes, but another life starts somewhere….Life is unpredictable but eternal.
And…..what happened to the second crow that sat on that there branch every day? Had one of them been visiting, a friend, perhaps even an uninvited guest?
So, from idle rambling to deep philosophical thoughts, my mind did get diverted and engaged, hadn’t it? That was my ‘break’ and I turn back to my mundane chores with a smile on my face. I didn’t need to plan a holiday or change my house to find a short, welcome break.
If one were to think about it, even at its most monotonous and boring, our life is never static. Even when the motions we go through day after day might look and feel the same, they are actually very different from those of the previous day. If nothing else, the calendar shows it is a new day!
That is a wonderful thing, wouldn’t you agree?
Ultimately though, needing or not needing a change/break – whether a temporary or permanent one depends on the individual’s temperament and state of mind, and perhaps age. Because while some thrive on frequent breaks and vacations, for others just a peep out of the window is ‘change’ enough!
I had written this post before the pandemic had struck and confined us to the home. Having got used to finding contentment with seemingly boring routines over the years, it was initially not so difficult. But as the confinement lengthened, thanks in some part to the spread of the pandemic and thanks in large parts to the paranoia of the L&M, it became a little difficult. Not stepping out of the house at all was the most difficult part, even for someone who didn’t look for too much change!
Still, I would thank my inherent introversion for being able to see ‘change’ even in this state of imprisonment and the lack of real-life interaction with people outside. It is that quality that enables me to change and find variety in every seemingly monotonous chore that enables me to maintain my mental equilibrium.
Are you one of those who thrive on change or are content with a peep out of the window?