“All that you touch, you change. All that you change, changes you.” — Octavia Butler
“I know that it’s a little dramatic, but the word for not changing is death… Maybe the right word isn’t ‘God’ but I believe in you.” — Pat the Bunny (First Song Pt. 2)
We crave normalcy. We crave normalcy so much that there’s even a psychological phenomenon to explain this craving: normalcy bias. Despite evidence in front of us that our world is not “normal,” that things are changing, that something is amiss, we maintain our day-to-day life with the hopes that simply believing everything is okay will make it so. We simultaneously take everything we’ve grown accustomed to for granted while placing those things on a pedestal, unaware of the cognitive dissonance that must occur for our brains to so blatantly shun change. I don’t blame you or me for embracing normalcy. Normalcy is safe.
We look at the way we currently live — relying on fossil fuels, taking regular international flights, eating abundant amounts of meat, avoiding news of strange going-ons that make us afraid — and think that this is the “right” way to live because this is the way we can maintain our feelings of safety. We trick ourselves into thinking that other ways of living are obviously impractical, or maybe even possible, otherwise certainly we’d be undertaking those ways of living. We fail to use our imagination to create the world we genuinely want. Rather, we constrain our thoughts to the world that maintains our temporary sense of security.
Our current normal is just one normal out of billions of possible realities. Think about all of the decisions that needed to be made for you to be exactly where you are right now — decisions you made and decisions others made that created the conditions you currently find yourself in. You’re here by accident, a series of disjointed choices connecting you to this moment. It’s pure chance that this is the normal you ended up at. With that understanding, we begin to recognize that what we see as normal can be shattered at any moment.
Change is a recurring theme in Octavia Butler’s novels. She went so far as to say that “God is change.” I’ve always loved how easily she embraced the notion that the only lasting truth — the only inevitable — is that things won’t always be like they are right now. In accepting the idea that “God is change” — or that the only thing consistent about the whole of existence is that it isn’t static — we are forced to accept that nothing we care about today will be the same tomorrow. We’re forced to reckon with the idea that what we can control is our reaction to the present moment, however uncertain we may be of what that means for our future.
When we consider the fact that change is inevitable, we can connect with our future without being afraid of it. We recognize that if anything is subject to change, then any action (and inaction!) we take influences the trajectory of our future. When we understand that nothing is constant, we view ourselves as catalysts for constant growth, willing to embrace every changing situation as it unfolds.
Change is powerful and change is infinite. And so are we.