I’m a performer here in Chicago. To further my abilities, I recently took a week-long performance workshop (Clown, actually) that was utterly terrifying. The exercises I completed were designed to induce failure, which was the point of them. The moment, when each of the performers in class finally accepted that we were failing, a truer, changed person emerged. It was a person without ego. It was a person free to laugh (or weep) at the simplest of things. It was a vulnerable person, living in a mode of reckless abandonment and childish wonder. Living a week as such a transformed person has reminded me of an exchange in my past that shaped my beliefs about the nature of change.
When I was in high school I watched my Latin teacher get into a fight with a student. It started innocently enough. My teacher simply uttered the old adage:
“You learn something new everyday.”
I don’t remember the context – he had probably just taught us something new -but then, out of nowhere, this student, who was admittedly a bit of a smart ass, put out the challenge:
“What if you don’t? What if you reach a point where you’ve learned everything there is to know?”
“That’s impossible. There’s always something new to learn.”
The student, changing direction, replied with an extreme:
“What if you isolate yourself in a cave, with no sunlight, fingers in both ears, for an entire day? Wouldn’t you, then, learn nothing?”
Everyone in the room was curious where this exchange was headed. I remember clearly my next thought:
“Well, if you spent the whole day in a cave not learning anything, you would technically learn that it’s possible not to learn anything for a day. Or perhaps you would simply learn that you spent the entire day in a cave, by yourself, with your fingers in your ears, trying to prove a point.”
This opened a can of worms in my skull, with an unending chain of days in which you could learn, every day, at the very least, that it’s possible to not learn something for two days in a row. And three days in a row. Etc. Etc. But then, wouldn’t you still be learning? The exchange stuck with me. And it sticks with me now.
I think I’m still stewing over it because both sides brought up interesting points, but ultimately brought me to the same conclusion:
It is impossible to not learn something over the course of a day and learning leads to change and transition… every day.
Fast forward fourteen-or-so years later, and here I am leading sessions at Rooted. A place where, time and time again, when I ask, “what brought you here today”, people reply, “I’m in a place of transition. I came here today because I need time with myself, as I’m going through a change.” At this point in the conversation, I normally have the thought:
“Aren’t we always in a point of transition? I understand that perhaps you’ve just moved here from a new city, or you’ve just ended a relationship – but doesn’t every day bring something new?”
I would challenge you to think about this. One day you find yourself taking a giant leap forward. Or, another day, you feel ashamed because you lost the momentum from yesterday. Or, another day, you feel apathetic or alone or confused. It seems to me that each day is simply a continuation of the permanent state of transition you will spend the sum total of your days living out.
Life is a journey to be certain, but I do not believe it has an ultimate destination. Even if you find love and success and fulfillment and everything positive and wonderful under the sun, you’re still a living, breathing thing that is changing. You can’t hold on to a moment of perfection because then you’re living in the past.
I believe that everyone is in a permanent state of transition. That nothing will ever be the same as it was yesterday, and also that it shouldn’t be. But these are just my thoughts, today, in this current moment. Tomorrow I look forward to revisiting the topic, and I invite you to do the same. In fact, I’ll even leave a starting point down below, to get everyone’s juices flowing.
“Isn’t every day a time of transition?”