‘If you can’t adapt, adopt!’
I am fascinated by signs, language and what can come out of it. Take a musical score and compare it with the music played with the help of that score. Did you realise that before the invention of the phonograph, gramophone, tape recorder, record player, cd player, mp3-player and streaming services, music was shared via signs on a paper – a score?
The most complicated musical score can sound very easy. Or a score that is looking innocent on paper can be a tremendously complex and loud experience. So signs and the meaning of symbols can give us different experiences when dealing with a collection of characters that make up something more significant. Like a tone, a melody in a symphony of signs and sounds. A letter in a word in an essay.
Suppose you like to play with letters and words and change the characters’ order to make something new. In that case, there is a lot of fun and sometimes an Epiphany that the very same letters, shuffled in different ways, can bring up totally different meanings. Everyone who likes to play Scrabble or Wordfeud knows what I mean.
Here are some examples where the very same letters reshuffled have very different meanings. However, from a material point of view they are the same: DOG is GOD, HOW is WHO, DYSLEXIA is SEX DAILY, SIGN is SING and SILENT is LISTEN. There is also music in this approach. Because musicians are doing the same when playing with tones to come up with ever-changing new variations.
So if you understand the difference between one single letter, let’s say the difference between an A and an O, visually it is just a little change, but the meaning can be enormous. This comes into play with an adaptation of Scrabble: the boardgame Upwords. In Upwords it is possible to stack a letter on top of other letters already on the gameboard; to change the meaning and get extra points.
Let’s take the word ‘adapt‘. The Cambridge Dictionary says: to adjust to different conditions or uses; to change to meet different situations; to change your ideas or behaviour to make them suitable for a new situation.
Think about an adapter. It does not change your iPhone but makes your headphone still workable because Apple ditched the headphone jack. So we are used to adapting every day, making slight changes in the same system to keep it working, without making progress into something new.
Now let’s trade the letter A for the letter O and look at the word ‘adopt‘. Cambridge Dictionary says: to accept or start to use something new; to start behaving in a particular way, especially by choice.
So this is something different it is not shaping the given, but adding something new. Seeing something in a different light and switching the meaning from one direction to another. It is like the history of sound recording. We jumped from the acoustic to the electric, magnetic, and (finally?) digital era.
There is a more profound lesson in this, and I would like to offer this as a possible direction for the new year. If you can’t adapt, adopt!
Be aware of the small signs, the little changes in the system, the little gestures, the details that could shift us from just adapting to adopting. Something new or unheard, something that already was there but overseen. Something that makes real sense.
I wish you have many epiphanies in 2021 with a positive impact on the planet, our society and for yourself.
have a great year