The Only ‘Constant’? You Guessed It.

Published in The Ferndale Record, June 20, 2012

If the only constant in life is change, then my little corner of the world seems to be fixed in the hardest substance known to man. Changes—big ones, currently permeate the lives of virtually everyone I know, including me.

I used to think change was fixable, temporary, or even wrong. But people who are older, or at least wiser than I am, know better. They know, and I’m learning, that rolling with it makes more sense than kicking and screaming, although I still do a little of that, too.

The alternative to accepting any variation of what we consider normal is to be frozen in denial, to stagnate, and eventually die (which, of course, we all do anyway). Despite the sting of significant change, I keep convincing myself it’s better than staying stuck. Why? The philosophical answer involves growth and personal strength. The easy answer is, it keeps boredom at bay, besides, there’s little choice. It happens whether I concur or not.

Change, especially if it’s unexpected, reminds us we’re not in control. Not really, anyway. We can steer our lives like we do a car, but it doesn’t take into account the decisions of others. We can be hit head-on, or sideswiped, and within seconds, we’re thrown into something we didn’t sign up for.

But the truth is, we did. We woke up. We chose life. We loved someone. We took the job. We made the move. We reached out. We made the call. We did whatever it was that got us here, and now, quite by surprise, we’re on to the next thing.

It’s not always bad, this change business. New opportunities, different people, wiping the slate clean—it can be all it’s cracked up to be and more. But loss is difficult, at least initially. We think only about what or whom we’re losing and how it affects us. It literally bites. Hard.

The inevitability of change doesn’t make it any easier. Knowing someone is going to die, or move across the country, or graduate and take a job that’s far away can prolong the hurt, the sense of abandonment.  It’s like drowning in slow motion.

So, what do we do? We probably ache inside, or maybe outside, and then we roll with it, and if we’re lucky, we get to help by dancing with joy or holding hands that grieve. To handle change any other way is exhausting and alienating. I know this because I’ve become an expert at resisting anything new or different—yet, when I fall into the fray and stop fighting, the ride is, well, maybe not easy, but less painful. And if I’m patient, there’s good stuff coming.

I’m a slow learner. But once I know something, I really know it, and here’s what I know: Change of every kind will descend upon me and the people I know and love. I can’t really predict how I’ll feel, but I can honor the process. I can let things be what they are without having to be in charge. I can help where I’m needed and back off where I’m not.

And I can do this every, single time.