Life is change. We have the choice to accept and embrace change, or not. The hardest part is knowing change is inevitable but not being ready for it. Or watching helplessly as people we love are hurt by changes in their lives. A natural instinct is to protect – but, from what or whom?
As I’ve moved through adult life and collected experiences, I am struck by how different my life was 20 or 30 years ago. I envisioned myself as an attorney and created an elaborate life of excess. It was the 1980s and “excess” was the “American dream.” Once I went to college, that vision evolved as my views on social justice and politics were refined. Excess seemed distasteful and wrought with greed. It was the wrong fit for me, even though I attempted to make it fit. After college, I started to find my voice. It has been, and will be, a lifelong process.
But, what happens when someone I care for is experiencing difficult changes? Especially, when I recognize the process and know it will be painful, albeit necessary, for that person. Should I “nag?” Should I leave them alone? Should I wait to be contacted? Each situation has been unique and while I want to say I handled them well, that would be inaccurate. If I’m lucky, I’m breaking even on the “supportive friend/family member” role.
Changes are part of the life cycle and, in some respects, “expected.” However, “everyday” life changes like starting a new job, marriage, divorce, losing a job, having children, not having children, etc., may be unexpected. We can attempt to prepare ourselves for them by being the best version of ourselves and staying connected with those we love. For me, this means not retreating into my cocoon of solitude, or we call it at my house, my “bear hibernation cave.” I am naturally extroverted and have an opinionated, over-the-top, bull-in-a-china-shop, overwhelming personality. But, when I become quiet, introspective and retreat into myself, I am either angry or very sad.
So, as I reflect back on how I manage change, I am struck by Bono’s quote, “I can’t change the world, but I can change the world in me.” I think he is talking about growing older and learning from previous experiences. Then, using the knowledge, understanding and possibly, maturity gained to move forward.
David Bowie expresses it beautifully, in the song “Changes”
Onward and upward.