“Either you adapt to change or be changed by it.“
~ Bernard Kelvin Clive
How well do you adjust to shifting circumstances? Do you find it easy to change course when needed? Why is adaptability so important?
If there’s one thing that has enabled we humans to proliferate all around this not-always-hospitable planet, it’s our ability to adapt as a species. Right up there with our knack for narrative we have a unique ability to shift gears and land on our feet when we need to.
You probably have dozens of examples in your own life where circumstances or situations didn’t go exactly according to plan. You flipped the script and chose an alternate course of action. You may have even found times when Plan B turned out better in the long run.
You’ve heard the clichés… “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and so on. You might find it easy to ‘go with the flow’ or perhaps you prefer to dig in your heels. Too much of either trait can be detrimental, the trick is knowing when ’to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em’.
Life is like a path that changes directions and varies in difficulty as you go along. One day you’re strolling through a leafy bower admiring the flowers and the next you’re tiptoeing on a tightrope with your teeth to the wind. Balance is key when the going gets tough.
When it comes to the inevitable obstacles along your way you can either crash into them headlong or dance your way around them. Learning how to be light on your feet usually comes after bruising your noggin a few times in the school of hard knocks.
While waltzing your way around the roadblocks of life may sound easy, doing a two-step around your troubles can be tricky. Could it be that one of the reasons we have music is so that we can ride the rhythm through the rapids of life?
Think about the last time you had to make a quick shift in plans. Did you turn on a dime without skipping a beat? Music is a metaphor for so much of our existence, it’s like a carrier wave for our consciousness to surf on. Likewise in a state of constant evolution.
I remember when the musical genre of Drum & Bass rose from the swamps of Breakbeat and Hardcore in the mid-’90s. Just when it seemed like you couldn’t push the limits of drum programming and bass frequencies any further, along came Jungle, roaring in at 180 beats per minute.
Driving in the South Bay a few days ago I happened upon Foothill College radio station KFJC where the DJ was spinning some recent Drum & Bass by an artist named Suka featuring an MC named Julia Marks. It reminded me of my efforts to describe the sound back in the ’90s.
“Jungle is what you want playing on your iPod in a Tokyo subway when an earthquake happens and you need to be fast on your feet.” Of course, that’s not a situation you’d choose to be in on purpose, but it does somehow convey the frenetic intensity of the sound.
So many things seem nearly impossible to imagine, then something happens, and Violà! everyone suddenly adapts. Case in point, Covid and facemasks. At the outset of the pandemic, it was like, “What? No way!” Now, (at least in my part of California) everyone wears one.
When it comes to adapting, the superpower to possess is patience. When you’re facing a situation that requires a shift in approach, there’s always that moment when you can either crash blindly ahead or pause and be patient while the best course of action becomes clear.
The human mind is malleable and thank goodness for that! Every time we dance through another change we go through a similar process. If it’s something that we consciously chose and initiated ourselves then we welcome the shift and settle right in.
If it’s something imposed upon us against our will we usually respond first with resistance followed at some point by acceptance. Patience comes into play as we adapt and then before we know it it seems like it’s always been this way until we forget how it was before.
If anything, technology is conditioning us to this. As any smartphone user knows all-too-well, about the time you start getting used to the way the darned thing works they push through an update and you have to learn it all over again. And no, you can’t go back!
With society and the body politic, it’s a little different. There are times, (like now), when we can see changes on the horizon we may not want to see come to pass. Action instead of apathy can ward off unwanted adaptations later on. In a word: Vote!
You’ve got all the tools you need to stay on top of your wave and not fall off your surfboard. Foresight, intuition, patience, and a good BS detector are all central to being nimble and rolling with the punches. Appreciating your ability to adapt is the final key.
Much love till next Monday!
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine