Things Don’t Fall Apart: They Only Get Rearranged

Things Don’t Fall Apart: They Only Get Rearranged

The somber moods of autumn have found their way in again. Like the inevitable consequence of sprawling summers lived in hedonistic pleasure, it seems only natural that the fall had to come. Our little biospheres always seem to grow quieter in the months succeeding the equinox, as if the summer heat flees in an act of true betrayal.

Spotty trees grow barren, already shedding their decorations turning to deep russets and brown. Cold wisps of air brazen the land, locking flesh into a hardened panoply of protective sheathing. The grass on the hillside bristles into suspended animation.

I know this feeling well. I cushion my words up against the cold embrace of westerly winds, hoping only that this hunkering down will delight with some intelligible revelation of the mystery of transformation. The wind outside is humming, and I clear my thoughts from the concourse of accumulating cobwebs strung across my synapses.

I think momentarily about death, and dying, and grieving; how sometimes it seems that everything in life is falling apart. Lord knows, already this equinox has taken more family from me than I’d care to give. But I know better than to falter beneath the lumbering weight of time. Life, it seems, is a non-stop anabasis of variously tolerable things.

It may not come with much surprise to admit that I’ve never been one for biting winds, damp decomposition, or hemispheric hibernation. After all, this is a crowded sentiment. Give me a Mai Tai and a reclining chair, I’ll happily spend hours lounging by frothy emerald waves crashing up on the shoreline. I’d trade my weight in layers of clothing just to relax beneath the radiant sun day in and day out.

What profound images of escapism the cold weather seems to bring up. How many empty promises there are that this will be the last time we brave the plummeting temperatures.

And yet, I can’t help but wonder why we were made to endure these autumnal transitions. They come to greet us every single year. Certainly, it must be that they’re wrought with meaning, as no sane person would choose to endure such abysmal weather conditions, unless an interest in some holiday sport was taken up over the winter.

But in the wisdom of our ancient nomadic ancestors, oftentimes it’s just better to move to where more favorable conditions can be met. So why do we decide to stay in places where the nagging cold condenses the moisture in our breath, and bites at the divulged fleshy earlobes hanging beneath our hats?

Surely, there’s a lesson to be found in change.

Things don’t fall apart. They only get rearranged.

A Study of Change

In all earnest, the passage from summer to winter quietly marked the first few months of my life. As a September baby born on the cusp of autumnal abatement, I was brought into the world as a current of newborn dynamism against the chilly outdoor senescence. How fragile that early world must have been. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always been so subdued in my temperaments.

But it’s not like I was born into a time of change more than any other child. After all, the universe has always been playfully at change, eagerly rearranging itself into unutterable millions of new combinations with every blink of the eye.

I am—we are—merely products of change.

Our lives are lived in a constant state of reordering. Not only are the cells in our bodies shedding every couple of years, but our thoughts are duly becoming more diversified.

The world around us seems to rush faster and faster. The vibrations of atoms are quickening. Our world is heating up, becoming more busied with the affairs of humankind souped up on adrenaline and computational mechanics. Our eyes dilate, our pulses rise.

Are we not the orchestrators of so much that is to come? And yet, how mistakenly we are in manipulating the world with instruments of change, forgetting that we ourselves are but one digit extending from the impartial hand of change.

The body, this world, the present state of this universe, is like a temporary aggregate of so many things. It is an image falsified by the very moment you choose to look at it.

Just as the torrential ocean brings together a hundred billion waves in any instant, reality, such as the one that you are sitting in right here and right now, is like the crest atop one of those momentary waves. This dark and stormy sea is an ocean of pure creative chaos.

Although, there is a seemingly embodied organization in all of these elements—a divine hand, if you will.

So what, then, is the rhythm of creation? Does it crawl slowly like a slug across the fabric of patterned reality? Or does it flit through the air like the scuttle of a dragonfly? Can you tap out its movements in a sequence of regulated measures?

Progression, and the workings thereof, is like an ostensible ghost. We all know it’s rummaging through our house, but we never have the opportunity to see it, so long as we live. And for this matter, it’s unlikely that we will ever be able to plot its advances.

But in the wake of its workings, we are able to comprehend the aspects its nature.

Things don’t fall apart. They only get rearranged.

The Application of Change

That which can be understood from the nature of change is plentiful.

The seasons shift from long and hot to short and cold, and then all the way back again in reverse. The caterpillar metamorphoses to the butterfly. The mushroom sprouts from the decays of a fallen tree.

Everywhere you look, things are making themselves anew, vibrating transitionally to different formations, redesigning and rehabilitating. And this is not just the course for natural things. Similar developments take place in business, technology, scientific thought, politics, sociocultural contexts, and within the interpersonal self.

All is one. The All is in a process of constant redesign.

Creation, as the indicator of time, turns inward upon preexisting forms and belches out novel arrangements within the patterned whole. Nothing is ever made from anything that didn’t exist before. And so, with this in mind, we are living flesh, the dust of the earth given vitality out of everything else in existence.

We carry the genetic makeup of distant space rocks, dung from the earliest dinosaurs, and the wisdom from the most remote villages across the world. Everything that thrives on this tiny planetary globule will inevitably fold back in on itself to assume a hundred thousand future forms. This is the case for the dust in the air, the deer by the lake, or the royal bloodline surrounded in jewels.

Every man and woman has been, is, and will be motivated by this same spirit of reformation. The very earliest civilizations were not primitive at all, but instead had a wholly different perspective of looking at the world. The progressive and conservative political debate is one of great futility.

There is no perspective on life that has ever been any more accurate than any other perspective. Life just is. It blossoms from the same fount, although its formulations are infinitesimal.

This is the center of the world which can be found everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Things don’t fall apart. They only get rearranged.

The Archetypes of Change

But then there’s still the matter of death, and dying, and grieving.

Is death not the great falling apart?

For reasons unbeknownst to me, death, and the idea of withering, seem archetypally synonymous with the spider. The way its eight-legged knuckles extend from its appendages as it dances across the ceiling, how its frayed silk drapes across things with timely origins—the spider seems like the inspired talisman for all things in wither.

But why is that? If all things are constantly in a state of flux, what can be said about the ideological relationships of things and the stories they tell? As far as we know, only humans have archetypes. Perhaps there are far more secrets in all of the archetypal relationships hidden within the dormitories of our minds.

The way I understand it, if the creative principle of life made the form which we refer to as spiders, we similarly made the archetype of what spiders mean to our psyches. To put it another way, death doesn’t have to be about falling apart, it can just as easily be about rearranging.

All things are in a state of becoming. Through archetypal understanding, humans have the ability to decode the becoming, to find meaning in the forms.

We are made in the image of life, and because of this, we have the unique ability to arrange and rearrange the enumerable possibilities of creation. This is how the mind is kept sharp, by riding on the cutting edge of analysis, questioning belief, and forming new patterns of understanding to reveal unfamiliar corridors of implication.

And so, in following this vein of reason, it may be that our very understanding of the afterlife is partially outdated, and possibly in dire need of being looked at in a new way. Perhaps heaven is not some far off utopia in the sky, heralded by angels, and presided over by the smiling face of our Maker. But instead, the afterlife may itself be another kind of life, just as this one is, replete with archetypal forms of another order.

It could be that heaven is just around the corner from this one. It could be that the previously deceased are existing right beside us, but in another way, somehow overlapping the fabric of our own dimension.

Things don’t fall apart. They only get rearranged.

The Beloved in Change

You or I have never been without change.

We are cradled in it, comforted by it, corrupted with it.

Change surrounds and compounds every good thing we value and reorganizes them into new appearances, whether by composition or context. Some things change faster than other things, but nothing doesn’t change at all. And although we can believe whatever we want about the possibilities of change, the patterns of change follow the same substantial laws. These are like the algorithms of existence.

The leaf falls down but not up. The wind blows around but not between. A deceased man transmigrates but does not reappear.

Our senses change. Our love languages change. Our cultural understandings change.

In closing, I’d like to cite a tale from the vast repository of Hindu mythology, with a popular story called: “The Churning of the Ocean of Milk.”

Though there is much that can be said about this fable, the principle idea revolves around the search for eternal life. According to legend, the Devas (demigods) and the Asuras (demons) once agreed to work together in order to churn the milky sea and draw out the nectar of immortality. On either side of the ocean the Devas and the Asuras stood, together holding each end of the serpent-king, Vasuki. In the middle, Vasuki’s serpent body was wrapped around Mount Mandarachala, which spun vigorously as the Devas and the Asuras tugged back and forth to churn the ocean.

Perhaps we are at the whims of these tugging primordial forces, causing a hundred billion forms in the multiverse to come into existence. A hundred billion waves crashing together—and everything we know, cherish, and contemplate is just one of them.

But there’s a pattern in the waves. Always a pattern in the waves.

Things don’t fall apart. They only get rearranged.

Thank you for reading!

Shane

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