The weather has been becoming consistently, albeit very slowly, cooler in Kuwait. Over the span of a month, it has dropped a few digits in celsius, become humid, become dry again, picked up a slight breeze, and dropped another few digits. I have been glued to the weather app, desperately looking for smaller numbers that I can revel in because frankly, I was still sweating outside, shivering cold in the air conditioned indoors, and unable to find pleasure in the supposedly-changing weather. For a while, everything had been feeling, suffocatingly, the same.

We don’t really experience change in the way that it actually happens, over a period of deep time. Smaller changes are easy to track: last month I listened to that music, this month I am cooking more, my hair is longer than when I cut it earlier this year, etc. But the feeling of transformative change, that shift that takes you out of your everyday minutiae and places you on the grand scale of your life—that is the kind of change that is so difficult to come by.

I am a routine enthusiast in practice, but the ideology of spontaneity has a chokehold on my fear of sameness, that it comes with lifelessness, rot… an unchanging me. If I don’t see something morph clearly over time, I find it hard to remember that it, like most things in life, is in a state of evolution. Perhaps it is microscopic, maybe it's unmeasurable. Yet all too often, I wrongly confuse homeostasis with death.

These days, I leave work just before 5 and the sky is a little darker. The sun is still out, but I can tell that it is lower, because the sky doesn’t look quite the way it did at the same hour just a few weeks earlier. One day, just before the weekend, my director and I leave the office at the same time. We accompany each other down the elevator, out of the building. We weave in and out of the cars that line the small streets which we have to cross to get to the parking structure. We don’t have a rhythm while walking, as this is not entirely our routine, so when we want to cross the third and final street, we are not in sync. He continues straight for a few more feet, and I cut through cars. For the second we split up, I feel the difference in the sky and immediately I feel a tear in the threshold between what is routine, what isn’t quite routine, and the rest of my life that precedes this very moment. The lull of life bursts like the lightest bubble, which was held together by a deteriorating adhesive—barely there. A few seconds later, we group again at the curb of the building, as I go up the first floor and he the fifth. The assembly of the last year of my life washed over me without warning or legible coherence. But like a rupture in monotony, it came.

Then, I drove back home.

We don’t experience deep change as it happens, but we experience it all at once, almost in a retrospect that has not yet past. In an instant that suddenly grips you, it takes over not your psyche, because it is rather incomprehensible, but your body. Your body, or my body, or anyone else’s, becomes the way through which you see what time has come to make, experiencing change through a sixth sense whose logic is not clear. It’s not the cold breeze, not the smell of the city’s streets, nor is it the way my jaws unclench when I leave the office. But it is a sensation felt. There are many things that we can’t wrap our heads around but know to be true. Our lives, expanding—even when they seem to remain immobile—is one of those things.
October 08, 2023 — Yasmeen Khaja

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