Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Change is the Only Constant

When you study evolution and ecology, you learn the phrase "survival of the fittest" and all that means is that if a species successfully changes or adapts itself to handle a certain environmental challenge, it does not go extinct. For us, being fit means being willing to change not only our way of living completely but also our way of thinking, as I've said before.

Pretty much everyone can (or should) sense that things are changing right now. Even if you don't buy into the peak oil theory or if you believe that what the U.S. is facing right now is just a recession, a mere "bump in the road" on the way to continued "riding high" in terms of the American way of life, life as we know it is changing. What determines whether or no we make it though, is our ability to adapt.

(I stay far away from over-reading the news . . . but of course, unless you live under a rock somewhere, you've heard of the conflict going on right now between Israel and Palestine. I don't take sides except the side of innocent children on every side. I just want to scream, "Stop the bullshit already!" Think of yourselves as the image of God. This way of thinking just doesn't work anymore and will surely lead to extinction.)

But I digress. So this morning I'm getting dressed and I am thinking about how cold it is. I live in an old house. The house might not even have initially been hooked up with heaters at all. It's cold in here and I want to be warm. So I pull out long johns of all kinds, wool sweaters . . . but as I'm getting ready to get dressed, it strikes me. If I put on all this stuff inside the house, it won't really help much when I get outside. The high today is 15 degrees with a windchill of -6.

I started thinking about adaptability. We dress in layers to face the cold outside, put on coats, hats and gloves. But adaptability doesn't always mean adding stuff to or putting stuff on. Sometimes we have to induce the body to get used to certain things . . . to learn to handle them. Now, I'm not saying we get used to freezing temperatures but every once in a while, it might do us some good to step outside for one or two minutes in the freezing cold without any extra stuff. Feel it. Process it.

Since having kids (and subsequently adding a little extra padding), I really hate packing on clothes to go outside because it limits my mobility. I usually am juggling kids, diaper bags, toys, books, groceries, etc. So, I find myself dealing with the extreme cold covered in less so that I can do more things more efficiently. And recently I've found that on days when folks are whimpering about how deathly cold it is outside, I'm saying to myself, "Hey, it's not that bad."

I remember a story my sistren told me about a group of indigenous people in Australia who the White explorers hired to show them the terrain. It would get to upwards of 105 degrees during the day and plummet to 30 degrees at night. The indigenous folks didn't flinch and seemed comfortable at any temperature without adding or taking away from their minimal amount of clothing. They had adapted fabulously to the climate, slowing up metabolism and dropping body temperature in the day whiled speeding things up internally during the cold nights. The White explorers, on the other hand, did not have the extra equipment they were accustomed to using to deal with extreme temperatures. They were at a distinct disadvantage (and of course, fascinated by the brown folks).

The point of this post is this: change is a-coming, we know that. It was coming long before Obama said so. It doesn't hurt us to think about ways that we can adapt that don't include putting on/acquiring/getting more stuff. The key to peak oil is not electric cars but returning to a walking lifestyle. The key to weathering the weather is not always packing on more stuff, getting more high-tech clothes but it's training the body to be nimble, flexible and adaptable. I'm not suggesting we all throw out our winter gear but let's every once in a while remind our bodies and ourselves that our survival is based on our ability to adapt. Physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Change is the only constant.

Photo Credit Cold Weather Gear by mbgriby on Flickr

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