Disequilibrium

As humans, and even further—as animals— we are wired to seek equilibrium. When things are out of balance, we make efforts to balance them. 

Our bodies do this biologically on their own through homeostasis—things like regulating body temperature and keeping all the levels of necessary hormones, etc in check even when outside circumstances change. It’s why we shiver when we’re cold and sweat when we’re hot. Homeostasis— the body’s biological quest for equilibrium. 

Outside of the body, though, in life as the human experience and not the biological condition, we, too, are constantly seeking equilibrium. But should we be?

The unexpected happens, as it does, and we immediately seek to restore things to “normal.” 

We feel nervous, anxious, afraid, and we are itching to return to our state of balance and contentment. 

We struggle, we push against things, but only to keep things the way that they are now. Because this feels good. Because this is comfy. Because this is safe. Because this is the way things should be, right?

Disequilibrium makes us feel, as the word suggests, unbalanced. Off. And we all know that feeling off means feeling scared or worried or like we’ve done something wrong, which means we must right the situation, which means we must find equilibrium again. 

This is, in fact, one of the basic tenants of learning and education. In order for learning to take place— in the classroom or in the world— there must be some state of disequilibrium. Growth has never, in the history of mankind, taken place except when it had to. And we only have to grow when there is disequilibrium. 

When the plans change. 

When we don’t know. 

When we’re lost. 

When we don’t get our way. 

When what we tried doesn’t give us the desired result. 

It is then, and only then, that we grow. What turtle has ever looked for a new shell when his current one fits?

We say it all the time, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” assuming the flip side is that if it is broke, fix it: a perfect example of our incessant quest for equilibrium, which I think is (because of things like homeostasis) innate. It is something we have to fight against, but that we also first must recognize.  

What if instead of fixing what’s broke, we grew in the brokenness? 

What if instead of always trying to level things out and return to balance and “normalcy,” we embraced a new life view? 

I just can’t bring myself to believe we’re here to be normal.
But maybe that’s just me. 

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