We change our clothes twice a day. We change more channels than we watch. We change our mind about what to order on the menu in a restaurant about 10 times in a minute. We change our hairstyle and we expect the whole world has noticed. Or is about to. We change the ring tones on our phone and the wallpaper on our computers. We change our opinions about our cricket team depending on whether they are winning or losing. And our politicians if there are potholes on the road and power cuts in the middle of the day.
The surprising thing is how little we change on several other counts. We watch our televisions from the same chairs in the same room. Eating the same snacks day after day. Driving to work along the same route every single time. Ordering the same dishes time after time after going to the same old restaurants. Waking up at the same time every day. Reading the same newspaper. Meeting the same people. Saying the same things in the same gatherings. Going to the same parties. Watching the same kind of movies depending on whether we like comedies or action or drama.
There’s a metronomic rhythm about life that we like. We want surprises only on our birthday or our anniversary – the same kind of surprises. We don’t want a sudden change of plan or routine that upsets the schedule unless it is all planned and paid for. Like vacations where we have arranged everything even before we take our first step out of the house. From home to the airport. From the airport into a strange city with strange signs. Then into a room with all its familiar trappings. It’s the scenery that changes. But we even want the same food that we have back home. We now think that trying food that we have never eaten before is an adventure. Adventure tourism has reduced the risks to zero. Its only the momentary loss of control that we enjoy. But we want to be back where we belong if the trip drags on a little more than we are comfortable with.
Even when we go to conferences, we look for a place to sit only the first time. Then, we hold on to that place right through the sessions. Resenting it if someone occupies ‘our’ chairs after a tea or lunch break. We pretend to be comfortable with change, but it’s hard to deal with. Only a few of us like meeting new people every day. Or trying out a whole new profession after complaining about the one we’ve been in for decades.
We don’t change our brand of soap easily. Or our brand of cigarettes if we smoke. We stay with the same shop if we can help it. It’s only a few among us who try out new things and then tell friends how good or how bad it was. And we take their word for it. We like having our mind made up for us rather than having to do it on our own. That’s why is it so phenomenally difficult to launch a new product. Or change a point of view. It’s much easier to stay with the status quo.