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Rule #2 Embrace change - Rules for Embracing Life in the 21st Century
Ivan, his study and his assistant, Purrsist, managing chaos.

Change is inevitable. Embracing change is not.

In thinking about Rule 2, I have come to the conclusion that Ivan saw embracing change like the Pirates' Code of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie: more of a guideline than a rule.

Ivan Potter loved change. Actually, he loved the idea of big change. He often spoke and wrote about change. He wrote many essays on this website on the subject. Order and chaos feature prominently.

"The fabric and tapestry of American cultural is complex as it is simple. Our daily life is woven and projected through time and space as a series of how we react to opportunities and challenges, as well as order and chaos." Future Shock: living in the eye of the storm

He often used two photographs of the same street in Clinton taken eight years apart.

The first, taken in 1908, was of a dirt street with horses tied to hitching posts.

The second, taken in 1916, was the same street now paved. Telephone poles replaced hitching posts. Early automobiles replaced horses.

He would tell his audience "In eight short years, Clinton entered the 20th century."

One of the biggest changes coming in the 21st century is artificial intelligence. AI is ubiquitous. So much so that most of us don't notice it. The public softening up and acceptance started with two gals named Siri and Alexa. Change channels without getting up and locating the remote? Sure. Alexa can do! Call from the car hands free? Siri has gotcha covered. From those beginning will come a whole range of potential uses for AI. The health care industry is eyeing AI answering medical questions online and the phone. No human involved. Whee.

"Amazon has made many AI-related enhancements to Alexa in recent months, including a new generative AI model to give the virtual assistant a more opinionated personality and the ability to adjust its tone and response to express human emotions like excitement or surprise." (TechCrunch.com January 9, 2024)

At right, Heinlein's Expanded Universe available (where else?) on Amazon.com. Heinlein was one of the early predictors of AI.

Embracing AI for those who will grow up with Alexa or Siri will be a breeze. Scarcely noticeable. Oldsters ponder a new version of "is it real or is it Memorex?"

Ethicists examine our relationship with our machine learning servants. Science fiction writers are all "I told you so."

AI is in its toddler phase. Machine learning will progress faster and faster as the 21st century moves into the next quarter. The only prediction with any possibility of being correct is that there will be more, not less, artificial intelligence in the future.

Embracing change in our personal lives is more of a struggle than replacing a landline with a flip phone then the flip phone with a smart phone. Our lives are in a constant state of change. While growing up, we take with us what we learn along the way. Attitudes shaped in childhood will take work to change.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul wrote "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

That is change that goes to the heart and soul of who a person is. It isn't easy. Childhood forms us. Whether our young years are happy or hellish, what we experience and are taught as children shapes us. Stretching past the child means embracing new ideas, new experiences, new people, places and things.

Ivan and I spent a great deal of time talking about our childhoods. He was a hoarder. While he he controlled what he valued, he still was loathe to toss a back broke book or an outdated magazine. He traced his impulse to hold on to multiple moves his family made while he was growing up. He remembered eight moves before finishing his last two years of high school at Hickman County High School.

Every time the family relocated, he left some thing behind. He remembered the one suitcase he was allocated. Sixty years later, he could recite what he took and what he left behind.

A side note here: At Ivan's Celebration of Life, his brother remembered the moves as being fun and exciting. He said moving made them the men they became. Ivan would have agreed with that last sentence.

As an adult, he was loathe to leave anything behind. We moved old high school, college and graduate school term papers, maps, journals, government studies long out of date. It took me two moves to figure out that his bits and bobs were more important than boxing the silverware. I learned to plan accordingly.

For me, embracing someone who needed things around him meant confronting my childhood of living with a mother who had lots of stuff. Magazines, books, clothes and the latest gadget from Lillian Vernon (remember those catalogs?) came in but seldom went back out. The things she thought were special I didn't understand (shout out to Steely Dan). I structured my life before Ivan around a minimalist philosophy.

Merging two different childhoods meant embracing compromise for both of us. He kept collecting and I tossed what got in my way. He learned to keep his working papers in his office where his able assistant Purrsist held things down.

He lucked out marrying a book nerd. His book buying meant that we have bookshelves in almost every room. I did draw the line at the bathrooms.

Some changes don't merit hugs. The changing climate comes to mind. Although Ivan told me that West Kentucky will benefit from warming temperatures, I reserve judgement.

Roses are now blooming in the garden, Embracing change is hugging roses. There is beauty to gladden the heart. There are also thorns that will draw blood.

Embracing change is hugging a rose. Do not hesitate to do it.

But do it carefully.

Addendum: We found Ivan's Rules for Embracing Life in the 21st Century while going through the many pieces of paper he left behind. I was his editor, correcting his grammar, his creatively spelled words and his bureaucratic run on sentences. He didn't share these twelve rules with me so I am not sure when he wrote them or even what prompted him to write them. The rules have made me stop and think. They have pushed me to write again and to share thoughts on each rule and what I think it meant to him. And what it means to me.

The Rules were read at his Celebration of Life on April 6th. Since then, I've been sending copies anyone who requests them.


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