Sunday, November 22, 2015

Change is Inevitable

You know that so-called Serenity Prayer, the one that goes…
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Yeah, that one.  It’s nice, comforting…and a bit misleading.  For while some use this as a guide to bend, adjust, and (sometimes) grow with the bumps and twists of life, others believe that if they have enough courage, they can stop change.


Change happens regardless whether you are serene or brave, smart or not.  How you deal with it (and how you deal with everything in life) is subject to further discussion, but not change.  Like shit, it happens.  Regardless.

I was in the grand Union Station in Portland recently, a magnificent building to catch a train (even if it IS Amtrak).  Built in the late 19th Century, this proud old structure still serves train customers well, yet it’s not the same building as it was.  I saw this as I waited for my train:
21st Century phone booths.  Superman would be PO'd

To be fair, there was one pay phone out of sight of this photo.  And maybe they’re doing a retro-fit to equip the booths with Skype.  Then again, I remembered another fixture of old public buildings like Union Station – water fountains.  And next to the phone booths I saw the 21st Century equivalent:

21st century "water fountain."  At $2 a pop, no less
Change happens.  No shit.

So many famous (and infamous) individuals have spoken on the idea of change being a permanent condition that I will cite two.  One is from British PM Disraeli, who said “Change is inevitable.  Change is constant.”  The other is much older, from the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus.

Actually, he had two good ones:
“There is nothing permanent except change.”
“No man ever steps in the same river twice.”

That last one is the one I like best about change, because it illustrates the fact that even though you might reverse a decision and try to go back to “the way it used to be,” you truly can’t make it EXACTLY like it used to be.  For there’s always the history of what was, and all of the OTHER change that has occurred.  Nothing pisses me off more than people calling for a change “to the way it used to be.”  Besides it not being very progressive and forward thinking, it’s wrong, because it can’t be exactly the way it used to be.  Similar, yes, but not the same.

OK, there IS something that pisses me off more, and it also has to do with change.  You know the excuse people give you when you ask them why something is the way it is (because you’re interested in making a change)?  And they shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, it’s always been that way.” Yeah, that pisses me off more, because it’s NEVER ALWAYS been that way.  Because at one point it time, it wasn’t that way at all.

The first time I remember hearing this bellyachexcuse (and the story I always tell to get my point across) was back in my college radio days.  I was the GM of the student station and wanted to implement some programming changes.  One thing I did not understand was the daily “Album Hour” from 5pm-6pm (historical note:  we used to use something called a “turntable” to play “records” aka “LP’s” or “albums” that produced sound without the aid of a CD player or computer).  Why did we still have the album hour, I asked?  “It’s always been that way,” was the standard response from both students and faculty.  Truth was, no one really knew how it got started*. 

So naturally I shit-canned the program, because “It’s always been that way,” is a lame excuse.  Don’t be lame, be ready for change.  Hey, I made up my own famous quote.

Speaking of change, the Wikipidea people need your change.  Spare change.  Or more if you can.  You can be the change by giving $3 (or more) here: DONATE.  Thanks.

* I did find out, eventually.  It started because one DJ, way back when, wanted to skip out and grab dinner in the dorm.  So he popped on an album, ran to the commons, got his chow, ran back, flipped the album over (unlike some CDs, albums have recordings on BOTH sides), got dessert, and then made it back in time to finish the hour.  The truth was lame, too.

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