Sunday, April 15, 2012


Change begins with the discovery that you have been doing something the same way over a span of time, say the amount of time it takes you to fill the shopping-bag type conveyance your laundry gives you to transport your shirts to them.  

In this case, you have uncontestable proof you’ve been wearing shirts with blue patterns, shades, and overtones.  Nothing wrong with blue patterns, shades, and overtones, except for the observation that you have shirts whose characteristic hues tend toward brown, orange, green—even a few of yellow and peach propensity.

Change, in that case, is a signal to review different kinds of books, eat a different restaurants, try other coffee shops, take Victoria Street home instead of Micheltorena Street, take your evening walk west instead of south, switch to eggs for breakfast for a time, buy green grapes instead of read, switch from Anjou pears to Bosc, try rappini as your principal pasta ingredient as opposed to the habit you’d get into with broccolini, listen to Ravel instead of Mozart, big band instead of trios and quartets.

Change means giving other factors within yourself a voice, even to the point of replacing some of the favorite words in your vocabulary—perfervid, say, or oleaginous, or prolepsis, even slowing down a bit on vast, disingenuous, bullshit, calamitous, and gerund-as-adjectival iterations of fuck—in favor of other worthwhile candidates to express the existential joys, sorrows, doubts, and abstractions with which you form relationships.
Vocabulary is no small thing to change any more than things or individuals with whom you fall in love are less than significant.

Truth is, although experience often dictates to the contrary, there are any number of splendid words out there, music to be absorbed, books to be read, poems to be memorized, remarkable things to put on pasta (Greek olives, for instance, crumbles of goat cheese, and the fruity arbosana olive oil you discovered only yesterday, not to mention the red and yellow peppers you bought at the farmer’s market because you were so taken by their color) persons to fall in love with, and stories to write.

 Additional truth is that there have been times in your lifespan where you have recognized and in emotional if not legal ceremony adopted certain preferences, traits, even qualities from which you mean never to part.  

These acquisitions, these acquired traits, define you as well as the things you see yourself hard wired into.  They have effect on the changes and recasting of priorities you make from time to time, but they in no way make you unrecognizable to those who knew you before you decided to rearrange the furniture.

All about you, there is change.  Your most favorite use of the concept is musical, as chord progressions in the jazz genre of be-bop are called changes.  Instead of a musician asking if he knows the chord patterns of a particular melodic line, he will ask, “Do you know the changes on How High the Moon?”  

Years ago, many, many years, you were in a crowded lecture hall at UCLA, where Andre Previn, still young in his emerging genius, was lecturing about the chord progressions in be-bop.  He played several bars of a Charlie Parker song you’d heard hundreds of times, Donna Lee.  “This melodic line represents the changes on a familiar old song,” Previn said.  “Anyone recognize it?”  In a flash, you came closer to understanding be-bop than ever before, because, within that flash, you’d been led to see.  Before you had time to think about it, you called out, Back Home Again in Indiana. Every bit as surprised as you were delighted when Previn nodded, you felt the joy of seeing differences beyond your ability to describe them.  “Exactly,” he said.  “Let’s listen again so you can see how the changes work.”  He cued up Donna Lee, set the stylus down, and you began to hear Charlie Parker’s inventive understanding of changes and their remarkable effects.

Change reflects not only your own growth but as well the growth of things and individuals about you.  Change reflects the general ability to understand, the drift toward greater understanding, and the abandonment of things we no longer need to understand. These are all, essentially, separate journeys of growth and change, but in that odd, wonderful way of synecdoche, where the whole becomes a symbol of the part or the part reflects the totality, much of it is there for you to observe and experience.  You may be drawn to other things, places, individuals; they may be attracted to you.  Always there remains the potential for repulsion as well.

You step forward with undying gratitude toward the things you have changed from and those you change toward.  So long as there is change, things will grow.  So long as you change, even if it is as minor as switching to the green shirts for a time, you stand a chance.

1 comment:

Querulous Squirrel said...

I'm thinking about changing to being more active. It's between getting a dog or joining a gym. Hmmm.