Living life in both lanes
Regular followers of this blog may remember that I have posted images of flowing water before. I had just about made a promise to myself not to do so again as my use of the genre seemed to be wearing thin, as did that of the constructed cairn. Look, some folks like sunsets, others appreciate grand vistas, and I seem to gravitate toward water. Someone once recommended, in response to one of my images of moving water, that I increase the shutter speed and stop the movement, reduce the blur, and sharpen things up a bit. Although I welcomed and appreciated the suggestion I didn’t follow it because I wasn’t sure how an image of liquid water, rendered motionless, could communicate anything about what was going on at the moment I pressed the shutter release. No photo, taken at some miniscule fraction of a second, can relate anything of the dynamic, nothing of the transformation of potential. I like a long exposure because it captures the feel of chaotic movement and flow, and that’s what moving water is all about. Sure there’s all the fascinating stuff about the various phases of water and the chemistry and physics responsible for its amazing properties but, when you come down to it it’s movement that fascinates us most. I chose, among several taken on a walk the other day, the frame below because I liked the contrast between the movement of the fluid and the stasis of the stone and I like to think the image may perhaps speak to the importance of both change and stasis in our lives. In its own way stasis is good, for it grounds us in that which is both comfortable and familiar. To be at rest, surrounded by that which may be depended upon, moors us by providing solid ground from which to venture forth and perhaps return from time-to-time. But an unchanging life, one which is entirely predictable, allows no room for growth and for new and enriching experience. If our vision were unchanging there would be no room for that expansive life of the mind that we all hope to pursue in our individual ways. I believe that the best balance may be expressed by co-option of a theory, proposed in 1972, known as Punctuated Equilibria. [Perhaps, sometime, I’ll write about this evolutionary idea and contrast it with its alternative, phyletic gradualism.] In applying this to the dynamic of our own lives, the theory of punctuated equilibria argues that for most of the time nothing happens, life is routine, dull, and predictable. That’s normal. Expected. Most of the time our lives are at equilibrium. Change, in contrast, occurs in rare and unpredictable bursts, and these are the punctuation points. These events are rich, disruptive, and perhaps even responsible for motivating shifts in the direction of our lives. Birth and death come quickly to mind as two of the most powerful of these punctuation points. So, what’ the point of this rumination on water? Just this – in the same way that I delight in the synergy of the dynamic and the static, I know that although there is comfort in routine, brief periods of disruption are good for they enrich and may even weigh heavily in determining the direction of all of our lives.