You can never stand in the same river twice

I keep hearing “When will we be returning to normal after COVID-19”, or from those who acknowledge some things may be permanently changed, the “new normal”.

But I balk at the notion that we can ever be in a “normal” state. Returning to normal is not possible, no matter how defined.

The world constantly changes, and no two situations are exactly the same. People, societies, ideas and concepts are never the same, evolving and changing with our experiences.

Even things we might consider to be immutable facts are, in the long term, impermanent.

The only constant in life is change. Change is not permanent, but change is constant. Our world is always in a state of flux.

COVID-19 has been a seismic shock to our systems. In particular, it has dramatically affected and challenged the reach and authority of state governments around the world.

However, even if COVID-19 had not become a global pandemic we would have, and have had, other major shocks, and innumerable minor shocks to our systems.

The resurgence to global prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to police violence against African Americans has been a major jolt and shock.

Such shocks challenge and change us. Issues that were off the table are now back on the table (e.g. defunding or even abolishing police forces).

Conservative politics are challenged and change.

In Australia, we have just had the shock of the High Court’s independent investigation’s findings into the complaints of sexual harassment against former High Court judge Dyson Heydon, which have sparked a national debate in the legal profession.

So can we ever have normal?

No, not really. Our lives are a constant series of new normals.

How do we live in this world of constant change? We cannot do anything other than live with it. What can we do but welcome change?

“Problems cannot be solved by the same
level of thinking that created them.”

“But we’re never gonna survive unless
we get a little crazy.”

We have to maintain our appetite and willingness for flexibility to view the world differently, change our ideas and ways of doing things, and positively build our (and our children’s) resilience and confidence to change. We cannot afford to become too complacent, frightened, old or weary to try.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it’s not the same river and he’s not the
same man.”
Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)