Nothing Gold Can Stay #
Perpetual change is a universal phenomenon that has perplexed mankind throughout history. Everything in the universe is in motion and any concept of stability is an illusion. We may attempt to fortify ourselves by stabilising habits, conventions, institutions and traditions, however even these must adapt to a changing world. Flux and stasis have always created tension in every civilisation. Change is often resisted most strenuously by vested interests - those who have the greatest to lose. Societies that resist the forces of change may prove to be quaint and interesting, however, ultimately they miss out in the scheme of things by becoming out of touch. In the midst of change it is also important to note, and hold firm, to that which is constant.
Nostalgia is the pang we feel upon realising the impossibility of returning to an idealised past. Coined in the 17th century to describe a pathological homesickness, it’s now understood as a sentimental fondness for the cultures and values of bygone eras — often of one’s own childhood.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Change is one of our greatest dilemmas; we crave stability, continuity, repetition, and the comfort of the familiar and predictable, yet we also need change or a break in order to avoid becoming stale, routine and complacent or boring. Our reactions to change are often affected by anxiety – not positivity, even when change is self-imposed.
Change can either stimulate and energise us or distress and debilitate us emotionally and psychologically.
“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” Mandy Hale
Change can either be gradual or cataclysmic. If the former, it may creep up on us; if the latter, it can be traumatic and profoundly disturbing to our personalities. Science provides us with an example of a frog in tepid water. If the temperature is gradually raised, the frog may adapt to it slowly but could eventually expire when boiling point is reached. On the other hand, History teaches us that if change is abrupt and imposed forcefully, it can result in dire consequences. The unifications of both Italy and Germany were imposed from above; not ground swell movements and both countries had problems in the transition from independent principalities to unified, centralised and democratic states.
In politics according to Helen Razer: It was not Gough Whitlam to first observe, “a week is a long time in politics”. It is likely Lenin never said, “There are decades when nothing happens; there are weeks when decades happen.”
The causes of change vary, but essentially can be reduced to two; regeneration or degeneration. Things change either because of progress or renewal or because of decay or regression.
Change has always been part of the human tradition but it is how we respond to it that determines our destiny. To do nothing is the worst because everything about us changes, and in the modern age, the rate of change has increased in tempo (the world has changed more in the past 100 years than in the previous 2000) to such an extent that those who resist or react against change are in real danger of losing out.
On the other hand, the French have a saying; “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” which translates into: The more things change, the more they remain the same. Or as Mark Twain put it; *“I’m all for progress, It’s change I can’t stand.” *
It is true that change is cyclical, often people change things for the sake of change and often after several changes things revert to what they were before. Essentially human nature remains the same throughout the ages.