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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

In Other Words: Moving Backwards Is Not An Option

Look at all of that hair.
According to my wife, when we first met I looked like I was in the BeeGees - long, curly locks and a bushy beard. It was the 1980s. Now I look like Mr. Clean. I visited my old neighborhood and things have changed. Spaces seem smaller. Some places seem shabby. But this happens to everyone.

Our old family river cottage is now at the bottom of a large state lake. The building where my grandmother owned a candy store is gone. In fact, the whole block is gone. It’s being developed into a city park. The apple trees I climbed in my youth have been cut down. The corner grocery store has bars in the windows. My favorite comic book store is now a quick check cashing business. A church is now a brewery. A department store is now apartments.

The question is, can I, should I, ever expect things not to change?

I remember when students got excited the day the high school yearbooks were distributed. They would spend hours examining the book, studying the photographs, and collecting notes and signatures of classmates. One of the most popular things to write was, “Love you as you are. Never change.”

Oh, good grief, what a sad note. Twenty years from that point I don’t want to chat with someone stuck in the past. I really want people to grow and mature and, yes, change. Embrace the value of the past but move into the future. Change may not always be welcomed or good, but it’s going to happen.

Oh, and how about those people who say that high school is the best time of life? What a load of hooey. If you think that you peaked in high school then you live one depressing life. I   remember hearing from graduates who toured the high school after renovations and they often exclaimed that “This is not my school.” Duh. Your school lives in the static shadows of your memory and not the fluid present.              
Is that really the same guy?
We, and I mean people and communities, change. We grow. We live in cycles. Uphill. Downhill. Standing still. Summer. Winter. Growth. Decline. It doesn’t matter. We are knowingly and unknowingly changing - and, I hope, growing.  Placing a value on that change reveals what’s going on in your head. I refuse to say that my body or life is going downhill. I am changing, evolving, growing. I am becoming the next version of me -  Version 2019.10.  And communities do the same. We may not always like change, but if we embrace change and appreciate what has gone before, we stay flexible in our thinking. We know that we have improved. And we are open to new possibilities. We gain wisdom. The truth is that resistance to change is futile. If you stop changing you die.

I have come to embrace change especially thoughtful, deliberate change. It hurts - like in my knees, back, fingers, and sometimes my brain - but it’s inevitable. Each change has much to teach. So I examine it, learn from it, and move forward. It’s not hard to do and the benefits are great. Sure, I’m slowing down and I still haven’t fully recovered from two years of fighting cancer, but you know what, I’m okay with that.

Besides, life becomes more interesting with change. It’s like walking into Kroger after they rearrange everything and you have to relearn the entire store. The idea of stagnation is repulsive. I prefer running water. I seek new stimulation, new ideas, new skills to add to becoming me.

Change means that we are growing or, as the Greeks put it, “becoming.” We are always in the state of becoming something or another (better?) version of ourselves. A seed becomes a plant. A chrysalis becomes a butterfly. Winter becomes spring. Young becomes old. A village becomes a city.

Change is not always what we see in the movies - dramatic, bold, and with a soundtrack. Change happens whether we do something or not. If we don’t act, then change happens. If we do act, change happens. Some people work very hard to stay the same. And that change is that they petrify. They are no longer nimble and facile explorers of the world.

I am not always happy with certain changes but I accept them, learn from them, and move forward. Because moving backwards is not an option.

1 comment:

  1. What a great way to embrace change and new things! Can't live in the past. This hits home with the current debate of having HHS graduation in the PAC or a larger venue. "Tradition" cannot be the main reason for something to stay the same. Life evolves, we evolve and things change.