Its a human tendency to think of things that are around us, of our environment, as something that is constant. This tendency is closely related to habits – people form habits quickly, and its very hard to make them change even a little bit. These are in fact, just two different aspects of the same attitude of constancy. It affects how we think about the world (Our Worldview), it affects how we plan our lives (Our Life Goals), and right down to how we live our lives (Our Habits).
But are such assumptions of constancy justified? Is our world really as stagnant as we would like to believe? Or is it more dynamic, more full of change, more variable than we would like to imagine?
These are hardly philosophical questions – after all, as we saw, our answers to these questions critically impact our lives.
For instance, for someone who would like to believe in constancy, a single job, a single city, a single job skill – none of these things would seem unusual to such a person. After all, if the world is going to remain more or less stable in my lifetime, then by implication, that means the city I live in, shall also continue as before, the skills that i have, shall continue to remain marketable, and the job that I have shall continue to exist. And, thus, once such things have been obtained, one can, what the Americans call, “Coast” – that is, to say, just live off the things already earned.
For such a person, therefore, the early part of his life is to be spent as in a hunt – he is trying to wrangle something from this world, to claim a small spot as his own, and once such a claim has been made, to then guard it jealously for the rest of his life.
The reason why most people have such an incorrect picture is not hard to see – few people read, most have a very limited social circle that is restricted to friends and family – exactly the kind of people who are most likely to agree with us. These patterns of behavior cause most people to live in a sort of “information bubble” – where only views that confirm what they already believe pass through, and views that don’t, don’t. In the rare cases that they do, they are immediately (and easily) dismissed.
But if one were to go by facts, rather than opinions, quite a different picture emerges. We see that our world really is not at all as safe & secure & constant as we would want to believe it is. Rather, it is far more dynamic, much more full of change, and in fact, quite fluid. Big, disruptive changes hit our world, and impact every one of us, every few years. The only reason we don’t see them, is because we do not want to see them.
We do not want to let go of our cherished dreams of youth. We do not want to acknowledge that what worked in the past is not working anymore. We do not want to accept that we are getting old. We do not want to accept that someone new, someone young, can know more than us, can deal with situations with which we would struggle. We do not want to accept that what we held to be cherished constants, are really, nothing more than the trends and fashions of a by-gone era, and that new “Constants” have emerged.
But if our world really is as variable and fluid – then what is the correct way to navigate it? If things indeed do change at a moment’s notice – and even less – how should we plan things out? Is it really useful to plan at all?
In fact, from this very stream of questions it is easy to see why people pretend constancy, pretend non-change, pretend fixed-ness. For few people have the imagination or the intelligence to deal with fluidity.
The dragon seeks out gold and sits on it, not because it cherishes gold, but because it honestly does not know what to do next.