December 15, 2015

advent day 15

Tonight we had our last UU Covenant Group of the season/year, and I'm given my participation a rest, at least for a while.

Covenant groups are a special type of discussion group some UU churches run... they meet on a monthly basis, and often have a "check in", a reading, and then a go-round and discussion. I've been participating in my group for about a decade! And led it for maybe half of that (sometimes in a co-leader role) so letting go is a tough thing for me.

And appropriately, the final topic (as picked by one of the leaders of the other groups) was "Change". Purposeful change can be difficult for me, because it feels like it has to be either A. a refutation of my past self ("boy what was I thinking? good thing I'm so much smarter now") or B. Just a bad idea in general. (But of course, this is symptomatic of the all too human tendency to try to squish the grand diversity of life into a single spectrum of better/worse, and so be unable accept "different: better in some regards, worse in others".)

Several people in my group had a negative reaction to tonight's opening reading/quote:
We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.
C. JoyBell C.
I was thinking about why that seems so problematic. Some of it is it's just insulting to one's personal history, like too much embracing of that "refutation of my past self" -- oh, stop digging here and start digging there - there's probably a whole gold mine right there you've just been too afraid to dig there, or stupid, or something.

So why is that gold mine so unlikely?

There's a kind of parody rap artist called MC Hawking, using a copy of physicist Stephen Hawking's electronic voice something to deliver science-related hiphop. His song entropy Entropy has this verse:
You ever drop an egg and on the floor you see it break?
You go and get a mop so you can clean up your mistake.
But did you ever stop to ponder why we know it's true,
if you drop a broken egg you will not get an egg that's new.
And why is that? The answer is entropy - I'm not qualified to explain it well, but the whole egg has more order; and in general, you have to put energy into something in order to counteract the tendency towards disorder and randomness.

And that's what the JoyBell quote is leaving out: all sorts of change IS possible- and it's important to remember that. But almost every change represents some kind of tradeoff, some kind of sacrifice: if anything was an obvious no-strings-attached win, we'd have been doing that already. But all these changes reflect some kind of sacrifice, some kind of cost. Which isn't saying net improvement isn't possible - but - the entropic universe being what it is - it will absolutely take the mindful application of effort and energy.