Part 0: Change and Changelessness
नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सत: |
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभि: ||
The above verse from Srimad Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 2, Verse 16) provides an insightful description of the changing and changeless.
The import can depend on our position, our locus.
If our locus is changing, then it is usually beneficial to draw support or stability from the changeless. For instance, in times of suffering like with the current pandemic, it is usually beneficial to meditate upon constants — God, Science, Nature, Arts, or Family — as the case may be for each individual.
If our locus instead is changeless, then any unraveling change provides an opportunity for careful observation of happenings. For instance, the rapidly evolving situation with the pandemic may reveal beginnings of several cycles of change, if we remain perceptive.
We may capture the above two perspectives with two e-words which we hear frequently during a pandemic — essential and exponential.
Part 1: Essential — Changelessness from Change
With more than half the world stuck In a lockdown, only essential services are kept functioning, and only essential goods can be transacted.
What is essential? This became an important question for consumers, producers, and governors.
It also became an important question for individuals. With more time to gather our minds and reflect, many of us may have wondered about which aspects of our lives are essential? Amongst all means, which ones give meaning?
It also became an important question for organisations. With limited staff at hand, most organisations had to identify the activities that are most essential. And the staff who are most essential to keep those activities running.
It is hard to fully appreciate the value of discovering what is essential — the very essence of an individual or an organisation. This value, if carefully understood and nurtured, can outweigh the pain and loss due the pandemic.
Part 2: Exponential — Change from Changelessness
If there is one thing that spread faster than the virus, it was the knowledge of what the exponential function look likes — the relentless function that accelerates as it moves higher.
For all its derivative beauty, the exponential function spread fear and anxiety as the number of infections and deaths rose.
For individuals too some things rose exponentially: The number of dishes cooked by bachelors, the number of meals with the entire family, the number of evenings on the terrace.
For organisations too some things rose exponentially. The number of Zoom meetings in companies, the number of online classes in universities, the number of business decisions taken, the number of interventions to give back to society.
It is hard to fully appreciate the momentum of the exponential. It is this momentum, that can shrink from years to days the time taken to make progress long due.