Haven’t posted in a while and thought I should…also, the change of seasons (gradual though it may be!) has gotten me, well, thinking again.
I think that there are few forces in our lives that are so simultaneously reviled and relied-upon as change. Change is a threat to many of us, a shifting of elements in our lives that requires a readjusting of balance. For whatever reason, we tend to prefer stasis, with all its comfort and ease and lack of the need for effort.
Stasis, however, equals stagnation, and deep down I think we all know this. If we do not change – if our lives do not change – if the world does not change – then there is no growth, and the absence of growth indicates and even induces decay. If we are not changing, we are dying. I truly believe this.
So while we are afraid of change – because, after all, change brings the unknown, and we are terrified of the unknown – we also crave it, for subconsciously we recognize its value and importance. So at the same time we are carefully arranging our lives into safe, boxy little routines, we also grow restless and initiate change – by moving the furniture periodically, redecorating the house, trading in the car, having lunch at a new place…still safe, tidy little changes. Enough to keep us feeling that we are moving, but not enough to actually require rebalancing.
Perhaps this is a wise and civilized method of dealing with the need for change, but I wonder. Nature would not agree – the trees do not change their leaves from green to brown and then back to green without ever losing those leaves. Next summer’s butterflies will be completely different ones from this summer’s. A river, when cutting a new channel, does not carefully pack away the old one just in case it decides it doesn’t like the new one, and it doesn’t save the receipt for the new one, either. The risk that is undertaken – what if the new channel doesn’t work out? – is an inherent part of the value of the process of change.
I am not suggesting that anyone create serious upheaval in his or her life as a nod to the need for change. I am as much of a creature of habit as anyone, probably more than most. I don’t like change, it scares me. Yet at times I wonder – all of the things I don’t like about myself, all of the things I wish I could fix about my life – how do I expect to do this, within the very same parameters that allowed the situation to evolve as is? If I truly wish to change the outcome, I must change some of the variables of the experiment.
It is a conundrum, I will admit. I don’t want my life to change a lot…but I want certain elements to change. Yet in order to achieve one, I must endure the other.
Fall is a season of change, of putting away and letting go and setting free and quieting. The mad, burgeoning growth of summer has ceased and the rising life force has reached its pinnacle, and now begins to drop. Everything fades and falls and becomes still. It is a season of preparation for rest. It is the last stretching and yawning and sitting on the front porch watching the fireflies, before wandering off to bed. It is the evening of the year, and it is a beautiful and glorious one, though also a bit wistful. Perhaps that is because we know that change is in the air – that we must bid farewell to the rush and pulse of summer, and prepare ourselves for the quiet stillness, the chill peace, of winter’s long sleep. And though we crave that change, we also fear it, and will miss what we leave behind.
Perhaps the wheel and turn of nature’s seasons is axiomatic, an enormous and inescapable example of what our lives should be? The discarding of that which is no longer appropriate and needed, and the pulling out of that which suits our new circumstances and will further the aims of the universe?
This year, when you’re pulling out your sweaters and coats, take a moment to reflect on it – pull out some new ideas as well. Dig out some long-neglected question or problem that has been stored away because you were too busy to deal with it, shake the dust off, and see how it fits into your life to come. Open up some completely new area of conjecture, and resolve to spend the winter puzzling over it.
Change, though frightening, can be good. Make it work for you.