Slipping Away

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And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking;
racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older;
shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

— Pink Floyd, Time

Surviving change is perhaps one of the hardest things to do, and yet it may be one of the most important abilities to master for a species, idea, movement, company, or even an individual in order to be assured of survival. The issue of changing "with the times" is often explored in fantasy / sci-fi fiction involving immortal beings such as vampires, robots, or even sword-wielding immortals from the highlands of Scotland. In Stephen King's Dark Tower series, the gunslinger Roland Deschain describes his world as having moved on; and while this may have occurred in a more dramatic fashion than most beings on Earth are likely to experience, the failure of much that once existed in Roland's world is still reflected in the pattern of our own world.

One of the key ingredients of the human life form is the ability to dream, to hope, and to otherwise plan for a future, however vaguely. Following up on those dreams and plans involves a varying amount of risk, but the possibility of equal or greater rewards is always there to compensate; being risky and daring along some axis is unavoidable in the pursuit of great things.

Unfortunately, over time, these dreams lose their relevance, becoming fruitless pipe dreams. As time slips inexorably onwards, the reality of life diverges more and more from the dream path until the dream becomes unattainable, or even undesirable. If one clutches to these faded dreams, they too will be dragged further and further away from reality, losing touch as they go; this is a trap that must be avoided in order to survive.

As humans, we carry around a tremendous amount of emotional and intellectual baggage. Of course, a large quantity of this baggage is absolutely essential; without any knowledge whatsoever, the human mind would be a pointless empty vessel. The difficulty is in discerning which items of baggage are useful, and which are not; since we can't figure this out, we just keep absolutely everything, accumulating an ever-growing collection. Eventually the weight of the baggage is so great that we are unable to take even one step further; and so there we remain, as the world slowly passes us by, leaving us to fade away in the emptiness that is left behind.

To survive change, one needs to truly accept that the world moves on. One may strive and struggle as hard as possible to control the direction it moves in, but the passage of time is something that ultimately cannot be reversed. Not all change is for the better — in fact, much of it may be for the worse — but once all is said and done, refusing to accept this change merely disconnects you from the world, ensuring that you will never again influence it.

The past holds many lessons that we might do well to rediscover and revive. One may often be tempted to dig up the corpses of old ideas, and revive them through some feat of necromantic sorcery, but such an endevour can only result in a doomed Frankenstein-like monster with no chance of survival. Take anything out of the environment or context that provides the ingredients necessary for it to live, and it will have no hope of survival; in addition, the new environment will have its own peculiar strengths and advantages, which need to be considered and taken advantage of for maximal effect.

Recognising and accepting the changing world is but the first lesson in surviving change, but it is a critical lesson to learn; ignore it at your own peril.

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