A change is as good as a holiday. Or so ‘they’ say… Well, not quite, because there’s no such thing as a holiday and, also, we rarely change from one thing to another overnight. Besides; who are ‘they’ anyway?
But yes, a change is a refreshment.
Change represents progress. Whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’… Change presents us with the opportunity to improve, if we so choose, in whichever direction we choose.
To be honest, the only constant there is, is change. Which, as contradictory as it may sound, is true.
Off course, all truths eventually merge into something that is far beyond what can be described with words like these. But along the way, there are a few ‘truths’ that last longer than others. And like most of those seemingly ‘eternal’ truths, this one is also slightly contradictory.
But it is no less true.
For us, change represents truth. Within the world that we inhabit, the only thing that we can be absolutely certain of, is that nothing is absolutely certain. Life is uncertain, and what happens after life is even more of an uncertainty…
Everything is subject to change.
We can either embrace change and flourish.
Or we can succumb to fear of the unknown and fight change.
But off course it works better to embrace it.
This, however, has rarely been the norm for mankind.
For most of our modern ‘civilised’ history, we have chosen to fight against change. Sometimes even violently so. To such an extent that there are countless examples of how new information was suppressed for the sake of preserving old understandings.
It took the catholic church more than 300 YEARS to apologize for prosecuting Galileo. They only issued an apology in the year 2000! And all he did was question the church’s idea of a Geocentric Universe, where planet earth is at the centre of everything else…
People would laugh this off as an outdated example, compared to today’s ultra-modern world, but fundamentally we’re still doing the same thing. It looks different, but it works the same. And it has the same result. It doesn’t actually help to fight change. In the short run, it might look like it does, but in the medium to long-term it never helps.
So yes, “a change might be as good as a holiday” but the meaning depends on how deep you go. And you can go pretty deep if you really want to.
Something we don’t always keep in mind is this: we’re as much a part of nature as everything else we see around us. Animals, trees, birds, planets and stars … and us. The only aspects of our world that aren’t considered ‘natural’ are the ones that we have created. And we are the ones that consider those things ‘unnatural’… but they are as natural as we are, simply by virtue of being. In the end, everything is nature. The entire cosmos, and nothing we can create will surpass that.
If you look at the natural world you find change everywhere, all the time. Perhaps it’s happening slowly, but it’s never stopped. There are no blockages. A fallen tree is not an obstacle or a nuisance, it rots away, it feeds fungus and eventually it becomes earth.
In fact, even if you look at the world that we have created, those structures, social or whatever, that do not allow for change, always succumb to the pressures of change anyway. Change then usually comes in sudden bursts, and sometimes it’s quite violent. So even there, change eventually happens anyway, even if it is initially fought against and suppressed.
In nature, where change goes along unhindered, it happens in smooth cycles of growth and decay.
And that’s the secret to going deep and really understanding why ‘a change is as good as a holiday’…
Because change allows for the decay of something old and the growth of something new.
We have to grow, it is a process that cannot be stopped, and here we are subject to the laws of mother nature as much as everything else. We are born, we will grow and naturally we will create something. In this we have very little choice.
Eventually we will die, perhaps young, perhaps old, and our physical bodies will decay, therein we have no choice either.
However, where we do have a choice is in terms of what we will create.
If we grow and create in harmony with the simple understanding that we will eventually die and decay, then what we create will also be open to change and embrace new ideas.
However, if we fear our own eventual death and avoid our own decay, then we will avoid understanding the growth–decay–growth cycle, and thus anything that we create will deny the natural emergence of new forms wanting to replace the old.
Those new forms that do emerge, will have to fight for their own survival, and many will perish along the way.
Until eventually the pressure becomes too much and change happens anyway.
You might be thinking “yeah, sure, let them fight, it makes them stronger…”
But when change happens after a long struggle, battle-hardened under-dogs, used to fighting for their own survival, will usually continue fighting in the same way they have done. The end result is usually a repeat of the very same mistake they were fighting against: a denial of one’s own impermanence and the impermanence of that which has been created.
Freedom fighters from yesterday fight against the freedom fighters of today and so the struggle for freedom continues.
It is only when we allow for change to happen, when in fact, we embrace it, that we really benefit from the renewal brought forth by the emergence of new forms.
There are other ways of making our forms stronger while they grow and eventually decay, unhindered. We need not challenge one another and put ourselves and our ideas in a pit-fight against one another to improve upon and strengthen our forms.
This was what I took forward with me from our July Surf Camp in the Transkei.
The experience gave me a fresh perspective. I looked around with new eyes and saw again what it means to go along with life and create something beautiful along the way. Allow new forms to emerge and work with whatever emerges. Do not work against what happens naturally. Work with it.
While physical strength does involve domination, this is not what will bring us towards a prosperous world for all. Real strength is the type of strength that will ensure our continued and peaceful survival on this shared planet of ours, and that type of strength is internal and has nothing to do with domination.
Real strength has more to do with NOT seeing every challenge towards your own individual form as a threat.
That’s a crucial mistake made by most of us, as most of us still share in having an unconsciously thinking mind. Emotionally, we always equate a mental threat with a physical threat. But it is a mistake, because only a physical threat is a threat to our actual survival. What we see as a mental threat is actually just the emergence of a new form.
One of the more memorable moments during this past Surf Camp came during a local celebration that we attended as a group of travellers. It was a celebration for boys from the village who were welcomed back as men after spending some time living away from home. As we sat there drinking Mqomboti (home-made maize-beer) I thought about the fact that this celebration isn’t as traditional as it used to be. As underdeveloped, rural, wild and left-behind as the Transkei may seem to many outsiders, this celebration has steadily been changing. And for centuries it changed very slowly, until more recently when that change accelerated exponentially.
For the purpose of this ceremony, and becoming men, within the gap of one generation boys from this village went from spending 1 year, to 6 months, to 3 months, to 3 weeks away from home.
One generation ago, they lived out in the wild, hunting and preparing their own food, for months on end. Now they had a little ‘helper boy’ who brought cooked food from the village and coca-cola from the local shop.
As I swallowed back the thick home-brew and handed the paint bucket with beer to the next person, I realised that this was why I’m not a tourist.
Not because of our itinerary or anything else tangible, but because of my mind-set.
I am a traveller just as much as these and all other people are. We’re all travellers.
Reality is not at all like the ideal-world that big tour companies and their tourists imagine it to be. Reality is constantly changing. There are no spectators and there are no attractions. There is just a process of change. And by going somewhere, we do not just see things, we create things. We change things. New forms emerge. Together with the locals whose territory we are stepping into we can either embrace change as it comes or we can try to keep things just the way they are, or the way we imagine them to be.
But in the end, we are all travellers, each one affecting the other one and each one being affected on the same level as the other.
Sitting there, one could pretend, like a tourist, that you’re an innocent bystander, a spectator witnessing a local traditional ceremony. But the truth of the matter is more complex.
As a locals, by trying to preserve an old tradition they’re denying the very same change that is already happening and the change that they have allowed to happen. And as travellers, by pretending that you’re just watching, and not taking part, you’re denying the fact that you’re contributing to whatever you are witnessing just by virtue of being there.
We all, each one of us, inhabits a world that is constantly changing.
Most deny it, some embrace it and flourish.
Yours in Surfing Love and Life
All Photos by Jenya Zhivaleva