Xeno Hemlock


#ThinkAboutIt - Why are We Afraid of Change?

A gigantic insect almost made me cry. The threat of a small bug about to jump on our skin can make the hair on our arms stand. Imagine a giant bug doing that to you. If you don't shit your pants, then kudos to your guts of steel. However, it's not the event of a huge insect that pushed my eyes to welling with tears but it's death instead.

In the late German novelist Franz Kafka's story Metamorphosis, the protagonist Gregor Samsa woke up one day to find himself transformed to a giant insect much to his surprise and his family's too. Despite its title, the reason for his metamorphosis was never answered in the story. It was irrelevant. Instead, the heart of the story lay on the consequences of his freaky (or wonderful, depending on how you view things) transformation.

Gregor's sister took on the responsibility of feeding him whatever she deemed fit for an insect's digestive system and cleaning his room. His mother tried to do the same despite her tremendous fear and failed. But it was her effort that mattered, showing she at least still cared. His father, though he didn't do anything involving Gregor directly, didn't object to keeping him in the house. His family didn't abandon him after their discovery of his fate. He was, after all, the source of the household's money. Without him, they wouldn't be living in their abode. With him, his parents didn't have to work anymore. There was no way they would abandon their money-making insect, at least not right away.

But change would prove inevitable (especially when giant insects were involved). Since Gregor couldn't bring to work his more than two legs, the money would eventually become scarce. His family was then forced to rent part of their house to keep money flowing to the household while keeping Gregor's existence a secret from their new tenants.

No secret goes untold in fiction (or perhaps in real life too, if you can believe that). The tenants eventually found out about the family's icky secret causing them to leave and the buried emotions of the family to finally surface. Then Gregor succumbs to a lonely death after learning of his family's real feeling towards him after his metamorphosis. Yes, he died in the same house with his parents and his sister still living there but he died lonely.

There are different analysis of the story, which is good to me, because great art should evoke different interpretations from its audience. In my point of view, Gregor's transformation and its aftermath represents one of the realities that can happen when a person goes through a 180 in life. They change so much, sometimes drastically, that people don't know how to deal with the new stranger they used to know so well.

Take for example Katy Perry's latest LP Witness, a departure from her radio-friendly pop origins and her foray to a more mature sound. Some critics and some fans alike were either lukewarm or harsh to her new offering. As a long time fan of Perry who despised "I Kissed a Girl", considered "Hot and Cold" a guilty pleasure, and fell in love (and saw the genuine girl underneath the glamor) with Thinking of You, Perry's more commercial-sounding songs aren't the reasons why I love her. My play counts have always shown more favor towards her album tracks such as "Lost", "I'm Still Breathing", "Ghost", "Love Me", and "Choose Your Battles". With her new album, I'm glad Perry has finally embraced the less commercial and more heartfelt sound she's been keeping at bay and only letting out from time to time.

In an interview with New York Times, she expressed her sentiment on her personal and sonic growth:

People don’t let people grow. They just want a time capsule. And they want them to be one thing. And we have to start reimagining that.
— Katy Perry

What is it about change that some people do not welcome? What makes some people afraid of other people changing? Fear of the unknown? The removal of comfort in knowing how another person behaves? Why do people, when they've fallen in love with someone or the idea or image of them, want them to remain the same forever? Are the only people open to big changes those who have experienced them firsthand?

Think about it. Why are we afraid of change?