Musings on Change

Published on: 2023-06-13 02:42:46

I often say, "Change is the one true constant of life." One can make of it whatever they wish to. It can be about how our personal lives are always in flux. It can be about the everyday routine, where everything seems the same, yet the seconds, minutes, hours and days keep on changing, an infinite variation. It can be about the universe, which is change given physical form, entropy ever increasing around us. Or, it can just be about how you cannot expect things in your life to stay the same forever.

Change makes us uneasy. It makes me uneasy. Humans are sentient beings and endowed with the power of thought. This ability of thinking and reasoning is a great gift. After all, we wouldn't be where we are today if we weren't able to reason. But this is a double-edged sword. When we can think, it is natural we think of the future. After all, the past is done with and we live in the present. But the future? The future is always in flux. Nothing ever happens until it actually does. We cannot help but think about what the future holds for us. There is an inherent uncertainty in the future.

It is this uncertainty about the future that makes us uneasy about change. It starts in children not wanting to go to school, morphs into fears of 11th and 12th, changes into anxiety about colleges, then into stress about getting a job, afterwards into worries about our work and then about life and so on ad nauseam. Is this all there is then? A constant spate of worrying about change and suffering regardless of the consequences. Surely not.

To some extent, I admit that I have over exaggerated the fears and worries we have when facing change in our lives. To many of us, it is not an all-consuming affair. But it does lie there, insidious at the back of our head and heart, asking us, "what if." This what if is the problem with change. It is what paralyzes us when we have to make choices about anything.

I have always looked for some way to tackle this. I turned to self-help books and motivational videos. None of those did any help. Then I turned towards philosophy. Now, philosophy is not a cure all. In fact, in some cases ignorance is bliss. But, we have a duty to be philosophical. After all, the unexamined life is not worth living.

After having studied philosophy on and off for the better part of 4 years, there is only one thing which defines the way I deal with change and life - Amor Fati.

Amor Fati

Literally translated, it means, love your life. Now, this is none of that new-wave, psychedelic mumbo-jumbo. This is deeper. It is more than just loving your life because you count your blessings or something as mundane as that. No, one loves their life because it is theirs. One loves their life including (not in spite of, but including) all the bad that has happened in it. Friedrich Neitczshe put it very very succinctly and I quote him wholesale.

I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.

My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it... but love it.

Nothing in philosophy has excited me as much as those words written above. They are an affirmation of life itself, not sanitised to shy away from anything nor even ignoring the bad but actively embracing them. After all, life is more than what happens to be good for us. In fact, life in most cases is not even about what happens to us. In light of the meaninglessness of the void we are in, the greatest thing is to be a life affirming person. To be someone who can take everything and anything.

That is what the yes-sayer means. It is not a person who is sycophant in the political sense. It is an affirmation of taking life as it comes, not complaining. And we do not complain, not because it is futile but because we are choosing to take life as it is. That is the true beauty of Amor Fati, to love life regardless of what it might be, simply because it is ours and for nothing more.

If you are looking for a proper conclusion to this essay, I'm sorry to say, there is none. I wanted to write about change and I did. I wanted to let more people know about Amor Fati and I did. I can only hope what I described here can help you as much as it helped me. Remember, love life because it is the only one you have, good and bad. It might be the hardest thing you have to do, but it is better than being a nihilist.