A realistic view on life changes
Nature's seasons are perceived as change
Early routine training
Where are the people who love change? Do you know anybody who enjoys going to a restaurant and be served by different waiters or waitresses all the time? Someone who chooses to take a different route to work every day? Someone who never eats the same food? Or never perform the same tasks, from morning to night seven days a week?
We are creatures of habit. Since birth our body tells us we need to eat when we are hungry, sleep when tired, and drink when thirsty. Our parents tend to fit us into a routine, so that they can manage their other affairs, besides child upbringing.
Best performers in all areas tend to repeat their tasks over and over until they consider they have mastered it. Have you heard of Anna Pavlova? Who would dare counting the number of hours she invested in her dance before and after she became well known?
Pavlova - The Dying Swan
Many people complain about routine because it is boring. However, routine can produce fascinating memories. For instance, in New Zealand many people love eating roast lamb on Sunday. Some rest home residents, having been brought up eating roast lamb on Sunday often report the sweet memories associated with the smells. They remember the mouth-watering hot smell of veggies, sweet pumpkin, potato, the sharp smell of baked garlic, besides the meat smell and the vibrant colours on a dish approaching the dining table. They hardly realise it was a weekly routine.
As a speaker of English as a second language, one of the first sayings I learned was “variety is the spice of life.” I agree, so long the spice is not too hot or too different. Having lived with friends from Portugal, we usually made soup in the cold winter days, poured wine over it while boiling and had the soup for breakfast.
My Kiwi boyfriend protested when I served a lovely potato, onion and meat soup with wine for breakfast. He said his stomach wouldn’t handle that food as the first meal of the day. Besides, he wanted his Weet-Bix** crunched with cold milk poured over it and banana, with a cup of tea.
Although routine may mean comfort, sometimes change is absolutely necessary. Before the 9/11 attacks, travelling by air was relatively uncomplicated. After that, aviation security put strict controls on passengers and their goods.
A decade or so ago, factories used to hire staff and trust they did a good job, without checking out references or doing routine drug test. Obviously reasons existed for change, such as poor performance and ACC*** fines for preventable drug induced accidents.
One driving factor for change is research. In the 1970s, when I was a kid, I saw many people smoking. It was fashionable. If a woman smoked, she was on par with men. I remember my aunt looking at me gazing at her cigarette and say “only when you turn 18.”
Two decades or so later, science has proven that tobacco kills 50% of its users. Smoking is no longer fashionable. It looks like alcohol is next, as some researchers have stated that even small amounts of alcohol cause cancer. If they gather enough evidence, we may change our perspective on alcoholic drinks. More than 10,000 years ago humans accidentally fermented berries or honey*. Since then it has become a both a medicine and also a treat, which is sometimes abused.
Some changes are welcome. When New Zealand instated the social welfare system, most people applauded. The role long performed by churches was now in control of the state, giving all citizens the same rights, irrespective of religious belief, and with a larger and more stable source of funding (taxation). Some changes may also occur because politicians or those in power benefit from them, so they lead the masses to belief that whatever change they propose will be for better.
Change can be dreaded, but inevitable. Divorce is one example. Some people marry and make the public commitment to stay married until death parts them. However, having a busy life, the couple go out and do their own thing, develop their own interests and only come together to pay bills and solve problems. After a few years they feel like their spouse has become an unbearable stranger they can't bear living with.
The Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sometimes a whole lot of change does not produce the result expected, so people tend to believe they have been in a lab mouse wheel, running against time and getting nowhere. They dismiss the smallest changes and ignore the possibilities of big changes. Even the mouse would have changed in the boring routine of the wheel, developing more muscles and a greater appetite for food and water.
At age 8, I came to know there was a mountain in Brazil called Sugar Loaf. My grandmother said the sugar loaf was created because a tiny little ant spent all day carrying grains of sugar to put them in a pile. The ant’s mates join her and did the same for years and years. One day, without realising they had created the Sugar Loaf. We tend to dismiss how much our ancestors have changed the world for us. Imagine having to go to work on a horse back, or carry water in barrels on a horse back to extinguish building fires. Despite knowing the benefits of change, we all struggle with the idea to some extent. However, change is inevitable, our cells change from the moment we are conceived. Coping well with change and thriving with it is a real possibility for all of us.
References and comments
** New Zealand popular breakfast food made of processed wheat flakes.
***Accident Compensation Corporation, a type of insurance company, sometimes public and sometime private, depending on which political party is in power.