Responding to Change
Let’s imagine that there are two kinds of change—and neither are kinds we can control. The first this is common change that happens every year or regularly according to a length of time. The seasons change and go through a cycle every year; the days and nights change. The moon has a monthly cycle. Even the stock markets go through ebbs and flows on more of a ten or so year cycle.
In common change, we also have the cycles of life. The times and impacts vary, but we have a birth, growth, maturity, decline, and death. These changes are commonly known and even somewhat predictable. If we can see over the horizon and realize that these changes and cycles of change are common and predictable, then we can prepare and even benefit from these changes.
In 2007, the US stock markets were really high. They dropped down to half, and then came back up. It was like a rollercoaster, but if you looked back over the history of the stock market, ever since it started, there was a number of ups and downs just like that. Mathematically one could have predicted that the economy would bounce back. Knowing this history might help us act rationally and not to sell everything at the bottom. If one could hold on for six months or eighteen months, things would’ve came back to a reasonable place. We cannot control the common types of change, but we can learn to see the patterns and hopefully adapt to them.
The second kind of changes are special changes or structural changes. Special changes are things that do not happen on a regular basis. Things like the industrial revolution, the cultural revolution, and the computer age aren’t necessarily predictable. We can’t control these either, but we can control our response to them.
There are good principles for living life that help us prepare for the unknown and unknowable changes of life. Living below one’s means, being kind to others, avoiding indebtedness, keeping every day life simple, and investing in our health are good practices for anything that may happen.
Let’s imagine there are three ways to approach change. First, we can resist and fight the change. Second, we can adapt or cope with the change and get by. Third, we can adapt and benefit from the change; we can find a way to thrive in the environment of change.
Taoists we well known as strategists and using divination to understand the changes of life. As advisors, they helped the royal court plan for winter and famines and ways to feed the people. As individuals, they used the long days of summer to invest in their health practices to maintain vitality in the bitterness of winter. Learning to flow with nature means learning to adapt to change. Personal responsibility is at the heart of a Taoist way of life and being the helpless victim of external circumstances does not help anyone.