Friday, February 18, 2011

Off-topic: Change

© 2011 cynthia cusick

    The only constant is change. Cliché. But true. Another one: All change is painful. If you weren't in pain, you wouldn't be changing. Sounds like a recipe for constant suffering, right? Now you understand why Zen and Buddhism plays a part in my life. And a sense of humor. The concept of change is an integral part of my work and what motivates and interests me. 
     When I was in school at EKU, one of the inevitable themes and comments that students would make about their work, including me, was how the work symbolized or referenced "growth." This made sense to me because the process of going through an art program is, or should be, the inevitable growth of basic artistic skills into a deeper understanding of one's point of view and a maturation of the work that resulted from it. The obvious metaphor for 'growth' was that the work was botanical and organic in nature. That's also an element of my work but I use organic things for additional reasons, not solely or even most importantly, the metaphor of 'growth.' So the fact that so many students, and other artists from other media, reference growth in their work tells me it must be an important idea for many people. When I think of the process of growth, however, I see it as slightly different but complimentary to, and part of, change as a whole. Growth, I see as movement forward on the life/death/life cycle. Change can happen during growth but may not always contribute to growth itself. Change can move the process of growth forward but maybe, sometimes, it just moves it sideways. Perhaps change is something that happens on a meta-level, as in, contributing to growth in the life/death/life cycle, but it also happens on the local level, such as positioning the entity to better achieve growth.
     And of course, I'm relating this now to living organisms because of my other obsession which is the human part of the natural-world puzzle and our ever-increasing tendency to believe we are separate from it, but change also happens to non-living things. That's another philosophical question for another time.
     I want to get deeper into the facets of change itself, the markers, the indicators, the journey and the feeling when it happens. I find that change, as a process, is often invisible to the participant. We often don't realize change until we stop for a moment and reflect. It's then that we can observe and note the differences between then and now. Those differences mark time and change but do we really feel it in the moment? I think the evolutionary record of life on earth is a beautiful example of indicators of time and change that we can see happened but cannot directly feel as it happens.
     I always try to remember that change contains information. It's how scientists do their jobs. You try something, note the changes and analyze the information contained in the change from point A to point B. Change and the effects of time are our textbooks to ourselves and our experience. Observation of changes contains the information we need to solve the puzzle of ourselves but so often, we miss the message. As Uncle Frank used to say: OBSERVE!

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