2021 was a year that carried a lot of change for me. I changed fields and left a discipline that was a part of me for over ten years, lost one of my professors – a mentor, who in no short terms, (has) made me who I am, and moved to a city I knew nothing about barring its tales of traffic. Acclimatizing to a new pace of life, both at work and at home, and moving with the complexities of Covid-19 as it surged in India, there was so much change afoot that on most days it felt that I didn’t have my feet on the ground.
To need to “adapt” to change is a concept I found strange, more so elusive and imposed, since I was but a child, for there was nothing I found that would ground me through its course – not even its own unchanging consistency. Being here at IKKIVI, my colleague and now dear friend, Ms. Esha’s exploratory nature made me realise how poignantly I dislike change. I believe I have always resented it, sometimes even in the moments where making changes or changing itself held a lot of goodness and meaning. No matter how much we may accept Remy’s profound truth from Ratatouille that “change is nature”, change feels harsh to me – not necessarily because it makes our days and journey unpredictable or discomforting, but due to the constant movement and little rest its unfolding can involve.
Contemplating the beauty, value and near necessity of a slow and mindful approach to life that underlies the foundation of our work over the last several months, has nudged me into reflecting on my relationship with change. I have had the fortune to meet the shadows of my ‘self’ and soak in confusions to ask some critical questions about the pains of change and the ways in which I want to, or more so need to live, to be in harmony with who I am (becoming). Stemming from my own predispositions, my pursuits in philosophy have largely kept me engaged in inquiring about the metaphysics of our existence, but never so much in the subjectivities of our experiences and needs. Unsurprisingly – yet, to my joy – after years of detesting myself for being distinctly slow to “adapt” to the new, let go of the old, and to merge with the ebbs and flows of life seamlessly, when I looked into some particularities of my personality I recognised that I do not want to adapt to change, but invite it into my everyday practices. A minute play of language while it can seem to be in the beginning, as I went into the profundity of the real variances between the ideas and propositions of the two words, I saw that one softened me, opened my shell and offered me something, and the other unconsciously divorced me from the wisdom, sorrows as well as playfulness of change. But what would it mean to invite change? And does something that perpetually befolds naturally even be invited in the strictest of terms?
In as much as change signifies an alteration, reorientation, remoulding, reworking modifying or modification, renewal, evolution, or any kind of difference to specific forms, I believe it can. Change requires time, and does not frequently transpire at the accelerated rate that contemporary or modern living can mistake us into believing. The inhumane velocity of action that many of us unwittingly experience and become subjected to in such a domain I suspect plays a significant role in deterring us from being able to feel or fuse with the naturalness of change. What I have been discovering now through my experience and examinations is my intrinsic attunement to slow(er) living, and that slowing down from a metropolitan pace of life does not soften the harshness of change but enables me (and I hope ‘us’) to see that there is inherent softness in change itself – that the slower I move, the more tempered, correct and truthful change can feel; that we may not need to “adapt” to change when we are able to feel its naturalness (as much as possible).
Inviting such change has meant to consciously allow myself to differ from the ways I (have) know(n) myself to be, and appreciate the differences and movements around me. In practice this has taken the shape of keeping with a few everyday rituals at home, cultivating slow work values, learning from colleagues and friends, steadily letting go of what feels inauthentic or hurried, practicing being comfortable with taking more time to do things, and carving an intention each morning. Being able to feel the naturalness of change has encouraged me to integrate with two (among many other) of its essential elements – genuinity and beauty – in a way that I always hoped for: to experience and perceive lesser loss and pronounced unity in its meetings. I’d like to ask you what about ‘change’ disturbs or disrupts for and in you; what, if at all, you’d like to invite through it and what you’d like for it to give to you; what you’d like for it to mean and what you’d like to feel in its presence. These questions are stepping stones that can hold a space and bind us with the fluidity of our being, making it safer and more enlivening for us to explore the world and our place in it – and I’d love to know what that place looks like for you 🙂