And then it changed

For the longest time, it was like this:

which was aways a bit surprising at first; all those colours and curves and intersections with an overlay of the ampersand at the centre. But it worked. The colours and the intersections and the ampersand came to be part of the milieu, the family, and it all seemed perfectly okay to have not one or two but this and that and those and there and here and everything all at once. Why not? It was what we were certain of and gotten used to; it anchored us in our world. Then one day it changed to this:

Admittedly, this new version was bold and dramatic. It took a little getting used to because it was bigger than the previous one and that meant it took up a lot of physical and emotional space. And it was one colour — red. That meant it stood out because usually, these things are not red and therefore tend not to stand out or get noticed much except by people who tend to notice such things that most other people often miss. And that is not a good thing to miss things that ought not to be missed, or at a minimum should be noticed. Like this big change in the world.

There were commentaries and pundits and speculation. Mostly, it was this is how it is now. It took a little while to get used to the new one, get comfortable, feel safe, feel as if it was now the known quantity that in turn nurtured a feeling of being known and in time, it felt normal which gave back what was taken at the time of change: a sense of certainty. And when that certainty was strong, pulsing, living and breathing it changed, to this:

No warning, no good reason for it. It took a long time to get used to it. The lack of colour. In fact, not only the lack of colour but the use of negative space: what is that supposed to mean? It took on the aura of a black hole — something important and with influence, but not something anyone wanted to have over for dinner. It wasn’t as noticeable as its red predecessor, but the influence was magnified because what it carried was a huge signal of uncertainty. Not only was it not possible to know it, it was not possible to be known.  It was not possible to feel comfortable or safe with a black hole so close. This one was not a thing to live with. It caused some extrasensitivity: skin crawling, vibrating antennae. Silence. Frowns. It stole colour from the air and rainbows.

When all seemed lost and hopeless, when it seemed that the black hole and negative space would go on before and after the end of time, it changed again:

There were additions beyond imagination: sounds and reverberations in colour and shape. It was shocking. After the big black hole, how to accommodate it? Where were the controls for sound and speed? It wasn’t a pure entity: it was mixed. This was more uncertain than the black hole. And noisier. No turning it off. It was everywhere. There was no ducking this change.

Immunity to change started to develop. Pockets of apathy was everywhere. Ennui ensued. Few cared, except the experts who pontificated on how to navigate this mess even though the evidence showed that no expert quoted by the media had ever been right.

But on it went and the change normalized to such an extent that only four people noticed when it was replaced worldwide with this:

One person cheered the return of linen and formality. One person adopted a wait-and-see attitude. One person saw it as a march toward embroidered conformity. And one person saw how it wasn’t exactly the same thing at all and how none of them were the same or all that different, and how there never was any certainty and as she was thinking these thoughts of change and not change, large alabaster wings sprouted from her shoulder blades and she laughed like she was being tickled by the breath of a lover. As her wings grew and blossomed she opened and dried and fluttered them. The other three looked on with some great concern. Was she going to fly? Would she crash? Die? Fall on them?

She thought hard about how to get the wings to work and after a few false starts, she was up in the air, uncertain of everything. And with warm, loving laughter that echoed through the airs and the waters of all worlds, she flew away.

The next morning, it changed again:


About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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4 Responses to And then it changed

  1. letempspasse says:

    What a clever allegory ! Dense with symbolism. I suspect if I read it a few more times, I would pick up a few more hidden messages in this delightful story. Do you think that, some day, we will all be able to shed the burden of our many layers of conditioning and start seeing (or feeling?) things from a more unified perspective, devoid of fear and expectations?
    PS: how in the world did you manage to gather all those ampersand images? Very effective illustration of your story. I’m not sure if the last image is more funny in a sarcastic sort of way, or a tad depressing… We have a long way to go, don’t we? 😉

    • FS says:

      Dear OBH: Thank you. 🙂 It is sometimes challenging to discern between what I think, what I wish and what I hope. Sometimes they’re all the same and othertimes… well, othertimes it’s hard to tell. What I think is that mindfulness and awareness of one’s burdens, fears, expectations, enculturation, biases, blind spots is a life-long task, and an ongoing process of internal conversations about what helps and what hinders, what to unravel, what to leave alone, what to change and what’s real and what’s been imagined. It is sincerely my hope that all of humanity comes to a place of not hurting itself and other species and the planet.

      You ask profound questions, which would take a lifetime to contemplate, and of course, provokes lots of other questions. Unified defined by to whom or what? There is one sunset. Do we all see it the same way at the same time? I was surprised to learn that different cultures do not describe or experience or see colours the same way. Isn’t blue…blue?

      Hmmm… the image of the snake was not meant to be negative or depressing. Funny, yes, but with some intent. When I saw this image of a snake in a stylized ampersand, it struck me in a whole bunch of ways. Where I landed in relation to the story (stories) was twofold: an interesting take on the ancient Greek symbol (evolved/stolen from Egypt?) ouroboros, which means something along the lines of contemplative self-reflection, and/or constantly recreating, cycles, and, Kundalini yoga which is considered the yoga of awareness. Celts had somewhat similar interpretation of the snake; cycle, never endingness.

      So now I get to be cheeky 😉 Where are we going that we have a long way to go? We might always have a long way to go and we might always and already be there. Or here. Until it changes. 😉 Thank you for your questions…. I’d better go chase my monkey mind before it gets too far away!

      • letempspasse says:

        Dear FS,
        Well then, we share the same hopes….
        As far as my questions go, I guess their “profoundness” mirrors that of your text ;-). It’s symbolism alone could have us ranting on and on for eons.
        I sometimes find myself believing in (or perhaps hoping ? that there is some truth to the concept that) “Aham Brahmasmi”. If I am the universe, then you and I and the rest of the universe may someday (albeit outside of time and space) share the same “eyes” with which to gaze upon infinity.
        I suppose the first symbols that came to mind with the snake were evil and deceitfulness, perhaps a residue of a Christian upbringing. Given that what the only enlightened being in your story had just flown away, the appearance of the “evil” snake at the end of the story seemed like a humorous reminder of what the rest of us may face… 😉
        But of course, I had not thought of all the other things that a snake may represent, such as the one found on the Rod of Asclepius (which I should have thought of…). It never even occured to me that it was meant to symbolize a unending cycle. Alas, I must confess my ignorance in such things.
        Where are we going if we have a long way to go? Touché ! I have no idea. It is indeed quite possible that we never left, given that we are already everywhere. Too bad we have to expend so much energy trying to convince ourselves that we are actually moving….
        Have a great evening!

      • FS says:

        I think that if you and I were to sit down and have a conversation, we might travel to a million worlds. All different petals of the same flower? That thou art… the acorn and the tree? Interconnected circle and cycles.. it is interesting to me how many stories say similar things, and how many say things entirely differently. How much enculturation? And you DO know the law of my land: “I will not should on myself today” 😉

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