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Monday, January 9, 2017

WHY A CHANGE'LL DO YOU GOOD

I like to think I am fairly normal in that the very idea of change has always exhausted me.  Seriously, I don’t even like to change into my pajamas at the end of a long day and have been known to sleep wearing the same sweater and scarf I was sporting earlier at the Stop and Shop.  I enjoy my personal routines and get ruffled when they are interfered with in any way.  I hate surprises.

No, really.  Don’t test that.  It won’t go well.
That all having been said with emphatic self-awareness, I also realize, with the pristine 20/20 vision of hindsight, that my resistance to change has more often than not meant it has to be thrust upon me in a chaotic, uncontrolled manner.  Because I don’t frequently CHOOSE change and because change is inevitable, I have unfortunately found myself in a sh*tstorm that was not of my own making on too many occasions for it to be a coincidence. 

My takeaway on all of this is:  if you don’t embrace change, change will try it’s damndest to CRUSH you like an Acme anvil.
So here I am, gently (HA!) rolling down the other side of the hill and finally starting to learn that change is really a GOOD thing.  Because my resistance in the past has frequently caused change to be an unpleasant experience, what I had rolling down that hill was a virtual snowball of fear…the more I resisted change, the bigger that snowball got and the faster it moved.  So my indecision (fear of doing what I want to do rather than what I “should” do or what I have been doing) had me so off kilter that all of the systems in my life started crashing all at once. 

Recently, circumstances have pushed me over so many virtual cliffs that I have lost count, and in my free fall I am realizing that I had been teetering on the brink for so long I no longer even understood what “solid ground” felt like.  I have been living with one foot in the way things are and one foot poised over the way I want things to be.  I have been having an understandably difficult time finding balance in such a posture.
Okay, sidebar:  a friend and I were recently laughing about how growing up in the era we did and watching films and TV, you might have thought that being swallowed by quicksand was a top ten cause of death.  An epidemic of mythic proportions.  An imminent threat.

I don’t know when exactly the “quicksand” era ended in filmmaking, but it occurs to me that quicksand IS actually a top ten cause of death…meaning psychic quicksand and psychic death.
The older I get, the more I recognize we do have a tendency to get ourselves stuck into situations that suck the life and hope out of us; and like those old heroes of film, we believe that struggling against it will only make it worse.  Best to bear up and face our impending doom bravely.  As we nobly, slowly sink into the morass we have created; the proverbial captain going down with his ship.

But I’ll tell you the truth:  I have always thought nobility might be a little overrated.  I remember being scandalized by the fact that Cordelia put her personal aspirations to noble martyrdom over the well-being of her kingdom in King Lear.  And it turns out it’s a good thing I didn’t put much stock in it, because it’s damned hard to be noble when life has become Roadrunner to your Wile E. Coyote and all of your plans have backfired in your face.

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans” said a really smart guy whose classic wisdom would henceforth be misattributed to John Lennon because that’s just how it goes sometimes, ironically.  Change is what happens to us whether we make plans or not.  So I guess the bottom line here is that we may do better for ourselves if we plan to change.
My life has been forcing me to make all kinds of changes at gun(cannon)point recently, and while I wish I had been brave enough to take action before I was threatened, now that I am making the moves they feel pretty good.  Instead of feeling scared or overwhelmed, I feel invigorated and free.  Oh, and maybe a little overwhelmed, who am I kidding?

And as I am starting to embrace change, I am also totally starting to embody that old, totally un-P.C. expression “Ain’t nothing worse than a reformed drunk”.  Because I see people I care about who think they are stuck in situations that aren’t serving them and I feel a little giddily drunk myself, wanting to remind them they are free to make another choice.   And how much better would it be to make that choice rather than be forced into it?
The dust has not yet settled on my personal journey and more changes are currently in the works.  But I no longer fear the piano dropping out of the sky on my head because I am on the move.  The literal and the virtual are starting to work in tandem as I am clearing space in both my physical world and my mental one.

"Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change," says Stephen Hawking, a fellow who knows a thing or two about adapting to change.  A change’ll do you good.  Without change, there is no growth; even if you have to take the proverbial two steps back, the person who makes the one step forward is more evolved and equipped than ever before.  That is what change always teaches us, ultimately:  we are capable of so much more than we imagine, if only we give ourselves a chance to try.
 

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