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Staying the Same

April 23, 2013



“Change is constant,” people say. It’s a phrase we always hear, even though saying the words never actually gets to the heart of it.

I’ve written before about change, about how much I’ve wanted to avoid it. One of the things I found so hard about teaching college was the constant change—transitioning of semesters, transitioning from school to school, new schedules, new childcare arrangements.  There were new classes to create and conduct, new syllabi to adapt and tweak. When I switched to an office job, I was hopeful for an end to so much change, a feeling of constancy and stability. But that job proved to be inconstant, too.

One of the things I’m learning from yoga is how to adapt to change. A constant shift in posture forces a mental shift every few seconds or minutes. The more my body does it, the more it feels like second nature. I am constantly coerced into an attitude adjustment. In every pose, as in any new situation, our goal should be to breathe, focus, and be present.

Right now, as April wanes, change is happening not only in nature, but in my life. My longtime neighbors are moving in a couple of days, which means I’ll no longer be able to look out my dining room window and see them sitting outside, their son drawing with chalk in the driveway. I won’t be able to call for an egg or a cup of vegetable oil, or stand on the porch with them in early summer and watch the kids on scooters ride by.

Yesterday, I got an invitation in the mail for a memorial lecture to pay tribute to one of my favorite college professors. He used to sit in the restaurant where I worked, drinking wine and writing his ideas down in notebooks. My husband remembers that we saw him in a bookstore after I’d had dental surgery, and he said “Be true to your teeth, or they’ll be false to you.” He seemed to be from another era, another world. Now he’s gone.

On top of that, this weekend my son turns six. Six is so far from infancy or toddlerhood. He has longer legs now, a strange sense of humor, a firm fold in his arms when he doesn’t want to listen. He has a new best friend every day, new interests. And then there are the rumblings about girls, even though he’d rather not tell me about those.

Soon enough, he’ll be 16, and he won’t want to tell me anything.

There is no way to control change, even though I want to. Stagnation is a kind of death, an unwillingness to grow. It’s not that we have no power; it’s that the power is in our own behavior, our willingness to surrender. I can’t control change, and I can’t control what others think of me. But I can direct my energy where I want it to go. I can act with integrity, adhere to a value system that strengthens me so I can adapt. I’ll never know what’s going to come, but I can work hard and breathe and be present.

When I first finished this post a few minutes ago, I saved it and went back to search my blog for the other times I wrote about change. A lot of titles popped up, but I had a particular one in mind, so I scrolled back until I found it. “Change and Resilience,” I saw, was published in April of last year. I remembered writing it at my coffee table when I was at the cusp of a new job, invigorated by spring, eager to fit one more thing in before bed. Every year, when spring comes, I tend to write about the merging of old and new. It’s not the first time my blog helped me notice I’ve had the same thoughts and observations swirling in my head year after year, almost to the same day.

That’s when I saw I had published on the same day. On April 23rd, 2012, I wrote a post called “Change and Resilience.” And today, I wrote a post I almost called “Change.”

It delighted me to remember how many things stay the same.


Image: “Stylidium productum” by petrichor via Flickr.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey April 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Oh, I love this. Yes, I too find myself writing about change over and over – so even in the flux there is a kind of constancy, yes? xoxo


Dianna April 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

This so struck me today. I know there are times when fate or faith, whichever you believe in, takes you to the place you need to be at the time you need to be there and your post was that place for me today. Thank you for your words, especially these, “I can direct my energy where I want it to go. I can act with integrity, adhere to a value system that strengthens me so I can adapt. I’ll never know what’s going to come, but I can work hard and breathe and be present.” I’ve been struggling with a work-related issue and was actually afraid (yes, I’ll admit it) of a meeting I had today. It went much better than I expected and your words reinforced my own thoughts. It’s always of great support to me to know others are thinking and feeling the same. Sometimes we hesitate to express those thoughts and feelings when to do so would very likely help.


Kimberly April 23, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I am struggling with change, too. Lately, it seems like the things I want to see change are not budging, but the things I want to stay the same are barely recognizable. I just need to focus. Regroup. Maybe I should try yoga! Ha.


Randi W April 24, 2013 at 5:10 pm

At a recent workshop, the presenter used this phrase often, “learn, unlearn, relearn.” Change can be good.


Heather Caliri May 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I love the serendipity of your discovery! I notice having moved to the Southern hemisphere for two seasons how much that disrupts your sense of rhythm of a year. Here, the temperature is falling, the leaves are turning, and there is a sense of things ending. And then we’ll take a plane flight in 6 weeks and suddenly be in the beginning of green and heat and abundant life again. Those rhythms powerfully influence us–so I can so imagine how that would bring you to the same place of meditating on change year after year–it is SPRING and POSSIBILITY and NEWNESS, no?


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