Friday, October 07, 2011

Mutability



We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!--yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost forever:

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest.--A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise.--One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same!--For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

The only constant is change. I Ching

Conflict is the root of all good literature, and at the heart of conflict is change. When some inciting incident upsets a beginning balance, the wheels of the protagonist begin to work, attempting to regain that beginning balance. Sometimes the balance is restored, although the protagonist should have grown as a character. Sometimes that balance is utterly destroyed. Even then, however, there is an unchangeable resolution. The book ends, the covers are closed, and the reader moves on to the next book on the list.
Conflict is also the critical element in living a full life. However, unlike in literature, there really is no beginning balance, and an inciting incident may be as insignificant as a dream or a single wandering thought. What then? If something small change change the future, how does one hold on to sanity or contentment or joy? Without a beginning balance, how can man find his way through 70 years of uncertainty?
What is the purpose of a goal, anyway? Why do men dream dreams and debate vision? If man has no control of the next moment, why plan? For what can he prepare?
Perhaps that is the point. Those who allow themselves to be so constrained by a particular plan never truly experience the spontaneity of adjustment. Those stiff-necked people who pretend to know the best definition of success cannot possibly work out unusual solutions to projects or adapt quickly to a new idea. The best and brightest of men are those who live on the edge,, welcoming each change as an opportunity to grow, to invent, and to create. That measure of success is not in some societal absolute, but in the satisfaction of personal achievement.
To live a boundless, unrestrained life is the beginning balance of the creative mind. The inciting incidents of change are merely the springboards to imagination. The rising action becomes an exciting and frustrating series of new applications and new ideas. Climax is that moment of revelation. Resolution comes with adaptation. There is no denouement in life because each resolution leads to another inciting incident. The story does not stop in a life fully lived. The covers of the book never close, and there is no need to find another life to live.  The man who chooses a full life embraces every change.