Change: an unshakeable presence in our lives

May 1, 2024

Phases of the moon. Photo by Alex Andrews at Pexels

Sophia Gloerfeld addresses the ever-changing world and how to embrace it as a young woman

Life is full of changes, there’s no escaping that fact. You might wish things could stay the same, hope desperately, but guess what. Change will sooner or later catch up with you.

This is most obviously demonstrated in the natural world. The cycle of the moon serves as a poignant reminder of the inevitability of change. Just as the moon waxes and wanes in its eternal cycle, our bodies undergo a profound transformation. Every seven years, our cells experience complete regeneration.

Consequently, we become an entirely different person to who were seven years previously. This process is gradual but persistent, bringing about changes in every aspect of our being; biological, physical, mental and emotional.

Just like our cells go through renewal, transformation is this unshakeable presence in our lives. It is of course a bit uncomfortable, but essential for personal growth and understanding. But the dilemma is, if change is this huge constant in our lives that everything adheres to, why do so many of us fear it and go to great lengths to avoid it?

In my opinion, this fear stems from a reluctance to accept change, being uncertain about what might happen, and often feeling a loss of control. The desire to keep everything the same arises from a need for stability and the comfort of what’s familiar. We often gravitate towards habits and routines, steering clear of the difficulties that change can bring.

However, Frida Kahlo, the renowned Mexican artist, known for her vibrant and introspective paintings, serves as a powerful example of embracing change and adversity. Through her iconic self-portrait, ‘Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird’ she symbolised resilience during her life’s changes.

Despite the inherent difficulty, accepting change is crucial for development

In spite of facing numerous physical and emotional hurdles, Kahlo’s exceptional strength as a female artist shines through her extensive body of work. She accepted these challenges in her life so that she could grow, develop and make the most of what she was still capable of creating. Her resilience is inspiring to us all. Even after her passing, these artworks continue to empower millions, guiding them through life’s challenges and illuminating beauty amid adversity. Kahlo’s journey further reinforces the Buddhist teaching of accepting change for personal growth.

On the whole, unlike Frida Kahlo, people typically avoid challenging paths and choose the easier route in line with the principle of Occam’s razor. This principle suggests that the simplest explanation is preferable to a more complex one. Despite the inherent difficulty, accepting change is crucial for development, both at the societal level and for individual growth, so I believe that following the principle of Occam’s razor isn’t necessarily the best way to go.

In complete contrast with the idea that we should choose the simplest path and avoid change and difficulty, Buddhists emphasise that all that exists is impermanent, and that everything changes. Failure to accept this reality, according to their teachings, leads to suffering. They believe that acknowledging the impermanence of everything and embracing evolution can enhance your quality of life, enabling you to escape the suffering experienced by those less open to the concept of transition.

According to Heraclitus, an ancient Greek, pre-Socratic philosopher, “no man ever steps in the same river twice”. The concept behind this statement is that everything is in a state of flux. The water in the river is constantly changing and flowing, even though it looks the same. This idea can therefore be applied to life. Although some elements may appear to remain unchanged on the surface, they have still undoubtedly changed. Check out more about Heraclitus, the philosopher of change here.

I perceive change as this force in life that is inescapable. It shapes our everyday and rather than avoiding it, we must embrace it. The benefits of doing so are integral to our personal development and growth. Let’s welcome change for the opportunities it brings.

Sophia is studying Maths, German, Art and History at Woodhouse College with the ambition of studying architecture at university. In her free time she enjoys various crafting activities such as making small clay sculptures.

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