Change. The only real constant in this world. The Buddhists calls it anicca and it is one of the three marks of existence. We call it many things, day to day. Impermanence. Transience. Inconvenience. But above all, it is the great, undeniable equalizer that allows nothing to escape unscathed. Great mountains are eroded into pebbles, raging rivers become but a trickling stream, and we go from birth to old age in a race against time. Change is both full of hope and full of anxiety; full of congratulations as much as condolences.
I am not sure about you, but I struggle against change every day. I want to look and feel the same way I did when I was younger, I want to have the comfort and security of my home, I want to have my routine. I want to pick my son up at 2:55 after school. Not 2:59 or 2:45. 2:55. Because otherwise everything in my day after that is just a little too late or a little too early and that is not how I put the day together in my head.
Maybe I take it too far sometimes, but I am a creature of habit, and if I have learned anything in my life, it is that creatures of habit are the natural prey of that great predator change.
The truth is, I am so afraid sometimes of moving backwards in my life that I just try to stop and hold onto what I have right now, never realizing that there are things out there I could reach; things I could love and cherish and things I desperately want and could get if I just took those steps forward toward change without ever fearing the steps back I may have to endure.
It’s that fear of going back to school because you think it’s too late so you just stick to the same job and the same routine knowing it is not what you want to do but it is better than changing anything.
But I have begun to realize something as I molt the shining wings of my youth and meander into the dry, dusty years of middle age; things do not stay the same because of wants, they change because of musts. They change because to stay the same is to stagnate. Fighting change means never moving forward in your life. It means taking out the wonder and improvisation we had as children. And we should all be more like children.
You see, the great beauty of all of this living we do is that our lives are going to change. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. There is nothing we can do about that, but we can choose how we handle that change. We can chose how we define ourselves in the midst of so much inevitable change because our choices in the throes of all of the things we will be faced with daily, monthly, yearly, and beyond shapes the content and quality of our personalities, our lives, our work and our friends.
So my goal, the goal for all of us who cling too tightly to the way things should be instead of looking at the way things are, should be to just let go a little. To relax and to start appreciating all the things we get in life.
That rain shower on the day you were planning a trip to the park can easily turn into the greatest puddle jumping experience you ever had. That out of the blue report due to your manager in the morning can turn into an opportunity to show what kind of work you are capable of on short notice and under tight deadlines. That impromptu quiz that greets you at the door of class is merely a way to prove what you have learned. And that sudden sickness of a family member or friend can turn into a way to express your love and appreciation for someone you might have neglected.
Viktor Frankl, a man who survived the concentration camps in Germany during World War 2 to become an influential psychologist once said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” And that is the challenge, isn’t it? To change ourselves when faced with the overwhelming odds of our situation. But you know what? I am all about challenges. I love them, and I accept this challenge. Not because I can’t change the situation, but because changing myself seems a whole lot more satisfying and lasting.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some puddles to jump in and one happy, carefree kid who wants to show me how it’s done.