Sunday, November 02, 2014

Evolve or Die

People don't change because they want to; people change because they have to.  If they don't have to change, they won't -- even as much as they say they'd like to.  It is only when they have no choice, that those who can change, will, while those who can't -- when they have to, perish.  That is the story of evolution -- the overriding imperative of all of life.

It's okay not to want to change -- but when one has to, that's the difference between life and death -- and those who live another day, and actually improve their survival chances.  Individually, that is also the story of "aging" -- which is usually meant to indicate one is becoming less fit -- to survive and thrive.  The fit are those who survive and thrive -- not just in the familiar sites and conditions of athletic competitions, but more importantly, under whatever conditions present themselves.

The best of course, create a response that hadn't existed before -- the literary tour de force, or unprecedented achievement that is the quality of that individual.  As such, it is not the "average" performance, or stereotypical response -- but something wholly new, which is the culmination and integration of that particular life -- manifested as the meaning and purpose of that unique existence.  That is what we all hope to live for.  That makes our lives extraordinary -- even to us.

Psychologists have called it the "peak experiences" that revitalize and change the course of one's life -- if they properly regard it that way.  To those who can't or won't, those are the crises that send them into an irrevocable reversal that they never pull out of -- that ultimately ends their life.  For most, that will take many years to run its course -- but the trend is unmistakable: one just gets worse, and there is no getting better.

That happens in every life -- so the challenge is to use those crises as the opportunities for transformative change that revitalizes that existence and life -- from that continuation that offers them no escape from that dismal fate.  That is the greatest wisdom and lesson in our lives -- that most do not dare define and confront -- because it means having to choose the untraveled path -- as the only hope from that certainty of doom.

One doesn't get to that point until one feels they have nothing to lose.  They don't even have to feel they have something to gain.  They just know, they have nothing to lose.  Those are the turning points for lives that get better.  They have to get immeasurably better -- unforeseeably better.  They have no idea where they'll end up from their act of desperation -- except they know they cannot go on as they have been.

For many, that is the "health crisis" -- in all its variations -- signaling that change cannot just be casual or moderate.  It has to be a total change -- to meet the challenge that threatens that very livelihood, questioning its every precepts and tenets -- before life can go on.  Those are the supreme moments of every life -- its defining moments, that tests their true capabilities -- and what they are all about.  Nobody can answer that, for anybody else.  That is everyone's moment of truth -- when they have to stand alone.  It is in those moments, that they find out who they are, and the person they've become.

Many don't want to know that.  They prefer to hide in the safety of the average and anonymity -- never knowing who they themselves are.  That is not on their agenda -- of things they want or need to do.  They are entirely content to know only the "average," and never any particular individual -- especially themselves.  They don't want to know that.  But that is the whole beauty of living and life -- of knowing how one could have been different, and made a difference in one's own life.

Instead, they wished to be distracted from their own lives -- into the entertainment and amusements offered by others -- that can consume an entire lifetime.  So in the end, they've lived like everybody else before them -- or thought they did so.  And that was "all there is."

It is thought in most societies and cultures, that the old know all there is to know, and are absolved of learning anything more -- when that is when it is most important to reimagine life very differently all over again.  The young do that because they don't know any better -- and so are open to the possibilities.  That is the fire that drives them -- until they feel they have seen it all, and have nothing more to learn -- because they know it all, of a rapidly shrinking universe.  That is how people grow "old" and die; they are no longer evolving, nor think it possible for themselves -- because they just want to hold on to the life they've always known before.

But every ending, is also a new beginning -- that brings new life and energy, for those who can embrace it.  That's how the last, can be first -- but not if they just continue with their losing, dying ways.  That won't change anything.  But if one does all the right things -- the right way -- it bears fruit, in its own good time.  That is the unmistakable lesson of the universe.  That's what matters.


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