Monday, 31 December 2012

Continuity vs. Change

Coming home for the holidays as a university student is always a difficult re-adjustment. I remember my first term coming home. I had spent 3 months cooking for myself, making my own cups of tea in the morning and learning that you do not put red jeans in a predominantly white wash, even if you do invest in Poundland colour catchers (they don’t work). To come back to familiarity, home cooking meals and mysteriously self-washing clothes (that don’t come back pink) should seem like bliss, so why did it feel like a step backward? Why was I expecting everything to have changes and I was confronted with the realization that continuity prevailed?
Flash forward a year and it’s the Christmas holidays after a tough first term of second year.  After a year of practice, my parents and I have found a balance, which still undergoes frequent revision.

The title of this blog post will be a very familiar concept to those who study history (and possibly other humanities subjects, I’m not sure.) It is the debate over whether our past can be divided into easily digestible chunks, periods separated by a radical change in society or lifestyle, or whether this is a framework imposed by the poor historian who is trying to make some sort of sense out of the mess that come before us. Recently, there was the Facebook (and apparently news worthy) subject of the Mayan prophecy that on the 21st December 2012 there would be a transition into a new era. In classic human fashion we deemed this to mean there was going to be an apocalypse and we were all going to die (needless to say this was probably a bit too far-fetched).
The Human habit of trying to categorise the past and seek order out of complexity is one which is both a quality and flaw. We should pride ourselves on our ability to rationalise the irrational and discover trends which we can remind us of what NOT to do, but is this really the most effective way to live your life.
Back to the everyday and it is difficult not to look back on your own life and try to pinpoint certain events which led to the circumstance you find yourself in today. The phrase ‘how did it get to this point? Where did it all go wrong?’ is one which frequently comes out in drunken tears at New Year’s Eve parties to a complete stranger who you end up waking up next to in the morning, accompanied by a headache and the depressing realisation that this year will most probably be exactly the same as the one just passed. However, this does not stop us trying to make a change. New Year’s resolutions have a reputation for being overly ambitious and lasting a week, a month if your ‘truly committed’, until you discover the left over Terry’s chocolate orange from Christmas and normality resumes along with a feeling of failure and ‘fuck it ill try again next year’.

This year I want it to be different. My New Year’s resolution is to accept continuity and the changes it brings. Embrace the butterfly effect and get swept away by the unpredictability of life and its spontaneous challenges. I’m tired of trying to control the future and make sense of the past, its and pointless pursuit and one which takes up time that can be better spent doing two separate clothes washes, trying to locate the Christmas chocolate that ‘must be around here somewhere, and revising the concept of continuity vs. change for the upcoming January exams so that next year I don’t find myself crying into a bowl of stale crisps wailing ‘where did it all go wrong’. We can’t plan our future but we can face the challenges life brings with optimism, bravery and the resolution that everything happens for a reason. So pass the champagne and see in the next year in the comfort of knowing life will carry on as normal, and there will probably be an apocalypse in 2013 anyway J.

Peace and Love x

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