the shifting sands of (something)

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the shifting sands of (something)

The constantly changing circumstances or aspects of something that makes it particularly difficult to understand or contend with. Older adults often find themselves struggling to keep up with the ever-shifting sands of technology. Part of the problem is that we've convinced ourselves that personal happiness depends on the shifting sands of romantic love, which does real damage to our ability to live fulfilled and contented lives as independent people.
See also: of, sand, shift
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

shifting sands

You can talk about the shifting sands of a situation when it keeps changing, and this makes it difficult to deal with. It's a struggle to keep up with the shifting sands of fashion. The problem is that the whole economy has been built on the shifting sands of finance, not the rock of industry.
See also: sand, shift
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

(the) ˌshifting ˈsands (of something)

used to describe a situation that changes so often that it is difficult to understand or deal with it: the shifting sands of the digital age
See also: sand, shift
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in classic literature ?
I dared not leave the prospector for fear I should never be able to find it again--the shifting sands of the desert would soon cover it, and then my only hope of returning to my Dian and her Pellucidar would be gone forever.
The captain was taking his ease after a long day of weary riding across the shifting sands of the desert.
The 24 papers consider such topics as the shifting sands of nursing informatics education: from content to connectivity, competencies related to informatics and information management for practicing nurses and nurse leaders in Brazil and the rest of South America, genetic and genomic competencies for nursing informatics internationally, and integrating health information technology safety into nursing informatics competencies.
Maribojoc town mayor Leoncio Evasco, Duterte's national campaign manager, said that the change in the voter preference of Filipinos as reflected in the SWS poll is akin to the shifting sands of Paoay's sand dunes.
Coroner Brian Sherrard said: "I feel frustrated by the constant shifting sands of disclosure in this case."
Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) are concerned that leaving room for unlicensed devices in the 600 MHz band may be engulfed in the ever shifting sands of incentive auction preparations.
Amidst a thunderous round of applause ZABMUN VII President Aly Hassam said that with ZABMUN they aim to lead the youth on a journey that is designed to shape the shifting sands of time.
Debut directed by Jake Schreier, Robot & Frank is a gentlypaced insight into the impact of new technology on the shifting sands of social expectations and the ageing process.
Now, Dubai, the seven-star playground of the rich and famous, has been exposed as a mirage built on the shifting sands of funny money and false hopes.
Following a gruelling case which started back in November, the court heard the 44-year-old had built a housing empire on "the shifting sands of fraud".
By turns serious and hilarious, the story captures the shifting sands of 1967, with the Vietnam War, flower power, and the growing generation gap.
Wise people build on the solid rock of God's eternal truth, and not on the shifting sands of foolishness and falsehood.
The whole sorry saga demonstrates that the EU project is built on the shifting sands of lies, corruption, bureaucratic arrogance and contempt for the populace.
If the shifting sands of justification demonstrated one thing it was that none of the reasons proffered bore any resemblance to the actual reasons for the invasion of Iraq.
Until that is done we are spinning our wheels, vainly attempting to create a strong foundation in the shifting sands of corruption, meanwhile sacrificing the lives of American soldiers and civilian contractors.