Human beings didn't become the dominant lifeforms on the planet by being rigid and inflexible in the face of change. We're able to adapt, when we receive similar stimuli over and over again, we react to it more and more efficiently and effectively each time. Naturally, these stimuli come in an endless procession, in innumerable forms. On a physical, nearly tangible level, repeated stresses on our bodies build muscle mass so that we're better equipped to handle these stresses in the future. Biologically, our bodies learn to handle repeated threats by developing antigens after the first encounter. Socially, we modify our habits to fit in with our habitats. When we uproot our lives and move to other locations we learn local customs over time, and our interactions with our environment become more fluid over time. My situation is no different, and I'm definitely noticing the ways I've adjusted, both consciously and unconsciously, to my environment.
I noticed it earlier tonight, while I was getting ready for bed. I threw open the back gate of the truck, a now-familiar cacophony that I've come to associate with home. I tossed my gym bag in first with a loud thud and some clanging, and then I hopped in. As has become ritual, I started flipping through the music catalog on my phone looking for an accompaniment to my routine. Once I found something good, I plopped the phone onto my bed and started unpacking and re-packing my bag. I pulled off all my work clothes, dumped them into my laundry bag, and put on some pajamas. I'm presently laying in bed, listening to the playlist I picked out, and writing this post.
Now contrast that with my first night. It's only been three months, but it turns out acclimating to a new routine happens pretty quickly. The body craves consistency, and is definitely much more comfortable when it doesn't have to work too hard to maintain homeostasis. On my first night, I was a nervous wreck. The whole evening leading up to it was torturous. I was still grappling with the idea of not having a fixed home, full of concerns about my relatively unknown environment, and futilely trying to process the constant information overload. When I was within sight of the truck, I became paranoid and uncomfortable, my eyes darting around like everyone was onto me. I scurried across the lot with my heart racing at a hundred miles a minute, and I didn't even start unlocking the back gate until I had convinced myself I was the only person in a 10 mile radius. Similarly, opening the back gate happened at a slower pace than tectonic plate movement, and I winced at each and every loud, unavoidable creak. Once inside, I crept around like a field mouse, and listened intently to the silence of the surrounding area for minutes before I even considered getting undressed. My whole routine for getting ready was awkward and inefficient, tip-toeing back and forth, treating the squeaky floorboards like landmines. It took more than twice as long as it does now, and was just all around not well-tuned for the situation.
But that's the power of adaptation. It doesn't even require a concerted effort on the part of the adapter, sometimes the driving force is just a subconscious desire for a better plan of action. It's a powerful tool against all shades of strife and adversity, a weapon so graciously bestowed upon humankind by a few billion years of fighting against our environments. It's certainly a reassuring thought, at least for me, that time is all it takes.