On Change

 

One of my students recently asked me to say or write something about how space and time alters things.

“You’re a practicing poet and songwriter,” he said. “Speak to us of change.”

When I told him he was treading dangerously close to Kahlil Gibran territory, he

frowned and said, “I don’t know who that is.”

Fair enough.

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Here we go —

 

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Throughout my life, I’ve changed my opinions about many things, and my likes and dislikes

have changed quite a bit.

The things I used to believe in religiously (art) I no longer revere quite as much.

The things I wanted to believe in (Golden Lotus Land, Nirvana, personal Satori, etc.)

but couldn’t—now those things are to me everyday facts of existence.

What changed?

 

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Ovid’s stories are about metamorphoses, which is changing from one thing into another in a

dreamlike or poetic way.

 

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Some folks say death is merely change—not the end of life. But I have yet to be convinced

of that.

 

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David Bowie’s song from 1971, “Changes,” is supposed to be about change, but I never

quite got the lyrics (“Ch-ch-ch-ch changes … turn and face the strain”).

 

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Book of Changes (I-Ching).

Change diapers.

Spare change.

Change your life/tires/sheets.

Change of heart.

“Some things never change.”

 

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Ancient Taoists practiced what they called “non-doing” (wu wei). Instead of “acting,” one attunes oneself to the rhythms and flow of his or her immediate surroundings. Rather than being an agent of change, the Taoist becomes change itself. When there’s little or no separation between subject and predicate, change happens the way it wants to. Hearts beat and planets rotate of their own accord and the Taoist is part of it all.

 

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Life is change. Cellular chemistry: microscopic ruptures and reconfigurations that mirror cosmic choreographies.

 

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Don Juan told Carlos Castaneda that when dreaming he should look at his hands. If he could do it, he’d get some kind of power. Dream power. William S. Burroughs tried to do it. Me too. In dreams, things morph into other things when we try to fix our attention on them, so it’s hard to see your hands without them melting or becoming palm trees.

 

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When I was in elementary school I noticed one of my classmates pulling tissues out of a box. They were a soothing pastel-blue. She had a cold. Blew her nose over and over. Tissues out of the box, over her nose, into the waste-paper basket. Suddenly, the tissues were pink. Then green. Then yellow. I became panicked, thought I was going crazy. Thought my eyes had ceased to be able to consistently and properly register color. Or worse: that color had become something arbitrary in the universe. Too much change too fast! A few minutes afterward, I learned the box was filled with multi-colored tissues. I felt relieved, but only a little.

 

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Love me. Love me not. Love me again. Love me in a different way than you loved me before. Love me in Austin, Texas. Love me somewhere in Africa where the lions eat gazelles and in so doing the two animals become one another.

 

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Change can be coming and going. Changing latitudes and longitudes. This town to that ocean. This freeway to that parking lot. But it can also be simple change. You don’t have to get on an airplane and fly somewhere else to experience change. You can change in the privacy and comfort of your own home, or tent, or tree house. This is what we call “changing inside.” And when we change inside, everything changes outside.

 

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There’s also alchemy: lead into gold. Has anyone actually accomplished this? If so, please give me a call. Let’s talk. We’ll cash the gold in and take a trip to Easter Island. I could really use a change of scenery.

 

 

© Brett Davidson, 2013.


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