I have a complicated relationship with stability. I am not only talking about my personal internal struggles but also how stable external processes affect me. Sometimes they bring restlessness and anxiety — mostly when things get too stable I start feeling uneasy and heavy. Stability is a condition which by definition is opposite to change. Paradoxically, for me, the lack of movement triggers more movement. I am trying to destabilise and shake up everything around. I like change and believe in its magic powers. It is almost irrelevant whether it is good or bad, I enjoy it truly, it makes me feel alive. And feeling alive doesn’t always feel good, suffering is also part of it.
Stability as a condition that is opposite to change, is defined also by being opposed to moving out of our current state to a new one. I wrote about resilience and anti-fragility before and these concepts directly relate to stability. There is also the notion of balance that comes to mind today, balance as the ability to control and maintain a stable position. Whatever this stable position is. When we have the balance it is possible to deal with instability. Without some degree of instability, it would be impossible to move. As well as without some degree of stability, it would be impossible to maintain the balance. I like thinking of balance as a skill that has no judgement to it. Balance is not about right and wrong but how to hold together whatever is there. The word balance literary means having two. Realising that, it made me think of balance as something that can be confused with indecisiveness and inability to move because of the split between the two.
There is the famous thought experiment called the Buridan's ass paradox — a donkey which is equally hungry and thirsty. The distance to water equals the distance to food. The decision is impossible to make and the donkey dies from thirst and hunger. This situation is also known as metastability. A condition wherein no matter which direction the movement goes, it always veers back to the initial state. At first metastability appears like a desirable state, there is some movement but there is also safety that everything will come back to stability. There is no actual movement in the metastable state, only oscillation. To get out of it a stronger force must be applied. The wider the individual metastable state, the more difficult change is. To visualise metastability, imagine a ball trapped in a trough. You start pushing it but nothing really happens. The movement is empty and results in nothing but movement itself.
I found this concept applicable to describe what I find problematic about escapism. When I am avoiding a particular situation or action, I start to occupy myself with other things, mostly quick, chaotic movements that give me instant gratification. They are intrinsically unfulfilling small gestures that give an illusion of movement and busy-ness. I know how they feel and that if I give in fully, they will result in self-destructive behaviour. I used to have a lot of difficulties with this type of behaviour, luckily it is not that alive for me anymore but I am still aware of the possibility for a self-destructive outbreak. I think that when small escapisms are taking over they bring shame and guilt in the picture and that is where self-destruction comes in. I try to eliminate myself as I can’t bare myself anymore. In such moments the realisation that I am in metastability comes and that no matter how much distraction I have it won’t help me to really move. When we are metastable we think things are changing but actually they are not. There is an oscillation which causes self-deception that runs on bullshit. Metastability can be used as a transitional state towards stable state that has transient qualities. When we are in stability we know that any movement is real - regardless whether the next state will be stable or unstable, it will be a new state for us. The trickiness of metastability is that there is no real movement despite the fact that we are moving all the time. Makes me think about the feeling I get when scrolling through Instagram - it absorbs time and things appear to change but also not. It is a clear example of metastability, unfulfilling illusionary movement from one place to another without excitement, fulfilment or novelty of the experience. When there is lack of purpose that obstructs choice making, which induces metastable state, there is no direction that seems appealing - we end up like that donkey, dying in the metastable heaven where everything lacks meaning. No matter what we do everything will go back to normal.