“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine. “ – Robert C. Gallagher
If change is a constant, why isn’t it easier?
Midlife is rife with one change after another. Whether children are moving out, parents are moving in, neighbors are moving too close, or friends are moving too far away, this revolving door of relationship changes can bring about all kinds of emotional upheaval.
Add to that the physical and psychological changes. For example, when did my body become an exact replica of my mother’s? And when did my brain start behaving like eccentric Aunt Lola’s?
Then there’s the general disorientation that accompanies a visit to box stores, grocery stores, or malls. Questions like, “How long was I in there?”, “Did I leave without the one thing I went in for?” and “Where did I park my car?” can easily cause a person to age ten years.
If I could effectively use the technology available to me, I might be able to tweet my way out of my predicament by finding a friend who could help me use the GPS on my smart phone to get the coordinates to the only twelve year old car in the lot with a “Life is Good” tire cover. (It’s important for me to stay optimistic in bold ways.)
Just when I start to feel like it’s all too much, I consider the possibility of what would happen if nothing changed. What if children never grew up, politicians never left office, snow never melted, ideas never evolved into action, or a bad haircut and color never grew out?
I shudder to think.
Some days, however, I’m just not that into change. I don’t want to adapt, adjust, or allow for the infinite number of consequences that result from upgrading a phone or switching billfolds. When familiar things take an unfamiliar twist the learning curve can be brutal until I can muster up the “this will ultimately be worth it” attitude that gets me through the initial exasperation.
Some days I feel every year I’ve been on this planet and find myself dangerously close to declaring, “I’m too old for this!”
With the exception of Garanimals, I’d really like to think I’m not too old for most things. I might be a middle-aged dog, but I am certainly capable of learning new tricks. Ironically, frustration and fatigue set in when I’m not learning, changing, and growing.
Of course, change merely for the sake of change is just another weapon of mass distraction. Enter the quest for meaning. Meaningful change, change with a purpose, intent to grow, learn, evolve…I’m into that kind of change.
Most of my life I’ve had a voracious appetite for learning. Ever since I got to consider where I might go, what I might do, or how I might spend my free time, I’ve chosen some kind of learning adventure that promised to shed light on the meaning of life. This quest for meaning has been the driving force behind most of my decisions.
In the grand scheme of things this quest compels me to continually take risks, travel far from home, engage in life changing conversations, and invest in new relationships. In the daily course of events it compels me to get out of my pajamas and attempt the ten-minute fat burning Kettleworx workout before heading to the office, write at least three decent paragraphs before going to bed, listen to amazing audio programs while driving in my car, and dispense the most helpful advice I can to students who trust me to have the answers.
Many times I have to fall back on the wisdom of Dory from Finding Nemo. “Just keeping swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim!” Not just because I absolutely love to swim, but because we’re all swimming in this sea of change and if we’re lucky, improving our strokes and breathing patterns as we go. Fortunately, we can learn from wise sea turtles and others who are further along or at different points on the journey and willing to share their experiences, or at the very least, their sense of humor.
The thing about change is that it catapults us out of the place of perceived comfort and opens us to the possibility of learning more not just about ourselves but the world in general.
It’s fascinating to be living in times of rampant and radical change. Like getting what you wish for, living in changing times can be a blessing or a curse. Today, I’m choosing the blessing.
What about you?