Years go by, unchanged. Then life changes, suddenly. What seemed unthinkable for years happens, without warning. This unpredictability is what gives life its character.
That change is imminent is universally accepted. But incremental change doesn’t affect us too much. It’s those sudden, discontinuous, changes that are disruptive. To be sure, disruption is not always negative. It simply ensures that the way things were done or the way life was lived doesn’t remain the same.
Technologically, we have seen many discontinuous changes that have changed our lives forever. It’s easy to think of a tech example. For instance the Compact Disc introduced by Philips & Sony in 1980 suddenly changed the way we listened to music. Prior to that, tapes were the gold standard. CDs disrupted the music scene. We had to now buy CD players because CDs couldn’t be played on tape players. Similarly, digital cameras (still photography) have changed the way we click pictures. Films for still photography are almost extinct.
A discontinuous change also disrupts the invisible realm of our personal lives. Such a change can be a voluntary choice or something inevitable that we must accept.
A career switch into unexplored territory is a voluntary change. It’s planned and its consequences are anticipated. I made a conscious decision a few years ago to be a full-time writer against my original career choice of advertising and marketing management. This was a discontinuous change that changed my life forever. It also disrupted my life…and ensured that it was never the same again.
When we fall in love, most often it produces discontinuous change. Falling in love is involuntary, not a choice we make. But we still have a choice whether to follow those instincts. Of course human beings are not always rational, least of all in love. So love, even though it’s not, appears to be involuntary.
Finally, bereavement is an example of a discontinuous change that is involuntary and in which we have no choice. Such a change is perhaps the most difficult to come to terms with. When someone we love dies, life changes forever. It’s irreversible.
Change, incremental or discontinuous, is an indelible facet of life on planet Earth. Yet ironically, we find resistance to change equally common.