Alter-often a word less used and substituted by “change”. Although there is very subtle yet deep difference between both, and often people use the latter one though having the meaning of former in mind. I distinctly remember that fine summer morning, when I was sitting at the back of car feeling the cool morning breeze gushing through every bit of me and the car was moving very softly through all the traffic on that national highway between Bikaner and Jaipur. A regular morning it may seem, what is so special! There was some one(I wouldn’t like to mention name) travelling along with me and my family, having same destination as ours and my dad and he was having a philosophical discussion about life and how people and destiny “change” in life. The reason I highlighted “Change” will be clear in a moment.
I was just a 11-12 year old school boy more interested in cartoons and sports but i decided to hear some part of that conversation. My dad is very awesome when it comes to making decisions in life, the way he judges a situation, understand people and his concepts of life and its aspects are something that I have always looked up to and admired the gravity of his words which I have started to realize with time. He is my idol when it comes to life and situations it throws upon me. Such awesome person he is ^_^
So he was having this conversation with the guest in our journey about changes. Let us give that person some cliché name, say: Mr. Sharma or Sharma ji, as Indian tradition would demand in this situation. Sharma ji started the conversation with how people change drastically with time, completely different from what they used to be. Papa remarked that “change” is a very strong word he has used. Sharma ji replied: “Change” is such a small word almost meaning less. Papa smiled with his eyes still focused on the passing traffic on that highway and hands firm on driving wheel. He knew that Uncle was unaware of the concept of “alter”. He asked him a simple question: “Do you visit a tailor and ask him to change your pant or alter your pants?” Sharma ji replied: That is simple, “Alter”. Papa once again smiled and said: “Thats it, that is all there is.”
At the back seat with Mummy and didi at my sides, I was carefully listening to the conversation and Sharma ji and me had some confusing look on our face. I mean how people “alter” and not “change”. All my life I have heard people “changing”, situations “changing”, conditions “changing” and so on. The list is long. Never I or probably Sharma Ji had heard “altered situation”, “altered people” and “altered conditions”. It kind of sounded funny to me at that tender age too. But I was definitely naive and something eye opening was going to happen.
Papa sensed the confusion in Sharma ji, looked for a moment towards him, smiling, then again fixated his eyes on the road. He then explained: “Alter” means making small yet significant changes although keeping that thing with us where as “Change” means discarding the old one and replacing it with either better version or some better alternative. That is okay, correct definitions but how they are applicable in life, I thought. He then continued: There are people in our lives, and they don’t “change”, but they “alter” i.e. they don’t get discarded completely but undergo subtle changes and thus they are not “completely” different as we presume they are, but are a little different from how we pictured them.
He then further explained this concept: For example, people say “I have to change my situation”, thus they end up in a completely different situation than what they had expected because they don’t realize that they are actually discarding the entire situation they dreamed of when they actually should have “altered” the situation and developing unnecessary anxiety and frustration. Altering a situation is generally easy, requires much less effort and is often the correct way forward. We don’t lose basic essence of things we want to keep, and we don’t lose the sight of the alterations we want to do and hence we get what is best for us and hence we end up with something what we desired for. Similar goes for “condition”. Changing our condition might require a great cost to be paid in return. Altering our condition is easier and help us to accept what is destined for us without discarding all the wonderful things in hand.
Sometimes we want to desperately change people around us, situations we are in, or our condition, when all that is require is just a subtle alteration and hence we retain the basic constituent of everything around us, thus at the end of process not feeling like we are in a different place or with a different person or in a completely different situation. There are no unpleasant surprises thrown at us by life and it becomes as soft as smooth as the car canvasing its way through that morning traffic….. Just Maska 😉 So now, Will you Change things or Alter them?