Change is obviously relative. In order to have change or to perceive change, something must also remain the same. Otherwise, it is just chaos without any sense of change.
Change occurs at many different scales.
In order to explore change, I played the piano for a time. Playing different notes obviously makes for quite a different experience. But I also played exactly the same notes and changed the timing. I played the scales up and down, exploring the timing and the loudness variations. I played staccato and legato. I was reminded that the theme to “Joy to the World” is just the scale played down (with proper timing). I played the scale in a higher octave. I played the scale transposed into c#. These were all external changes.
Then, I decided to make “internal” changes. I listened to the quality of the notes. I felt the feeling of the keys on my fingertips. I listened to the spaces between the notes. Of course, to return to the theme of change at different scales, so to speak, sound itself is a dynamic change at several scales. Any give note is vibration but it also diminishes in loudness over time. But this does not seem to happen in a steady fashion. Even one note played seems to have a complex dynamic over time.
I decided to go for a walk. I mainly concentrated on internal changes. That is, I walked and played with changing the way I walked. I pushed off more with my toes. I pumped my arms more vigorously. I turned my body or my hips slightly with the steps. I turned my attention to the sensation of my feet on the ground; to my muscles making the movements; to the smells in the air; to the sounds of my steps; the traffic; mourning doves taking off; a tennis player bouncing the ball against a wall. For a time, I could hear the echo of his hits from a house across the street. I noticed that there was a change in the sound of the ball hitting the wall and hitting his racquet.
I walked by a fountain. The water was coming down in a pattern which, at some level, was unchanged but of course, in minute ways it was changing constantly. From the perspective of the individual water molecules, it was constant change. Some may have stayed for quite a time in the pool. Some might have had more exciting lives for a time.
I watched golfers on the driving range. All were obviously changing the position of the club through space as they attempted to hit the ball. None had mastered the dynamics of change. That is, none of them had the smooth and effortless acceleration of the accomplished golfer. Every swing had one or more glitches where the golfer was trying to “make it happen” rather than being the flow that is the happening of a great golf swing.
There were dead leaves on the ground. This made me think of the changing seasons. An old woman walked by and, like Yeats, I saw her as the young child she once was. I noticed how the branches of a tree “change” as one looks from the trunk to the branchlets and leaves. I thought of how there is an ever changing pattern of branch overlap as I walked by. These changes help me understand the structure of the tree. I recall that what I see is not the tree, but only the part that is above the ground. It is only the part that is alive right now; I do not see its ancestors or descendants. I do not even see the tree as a seedling or a crushed and fallen stump. I see a
￼snapshot of the tree’s life; a fleeting glimpse only. Even that glimpse, though intricate and beautiful, is only the merest shadow onto the senses I myself possess.
To be alive requires the acceptance of a fatal disease called life. Of course, Life, with a capital “L” goes on and on. Change. Change. Like the song about Bingo the dog.
Change is ubiquitous and inevitable. The only question is which changes to encourage, initiate or try to stem. Typically, it seems to me, it is more powerful to encourage changes you like than to try to stem the inexorable tides of change you abhor.