Friday, May 28, 2010

I am challenged by change...

...and sometimes I am actually frightened by it.

There are moments when I want to cling to what I know...to resist the ongoing metamorphisis of my life against changes as constant as the ebb and flow of the tide.

W. H. Auden wrote "We would rather be ruined than changed; We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die".

Often in my life those words could have been written about me. That great, looming fear of the unknown was, quite frankly, more powerful than any possibility.

But over the years, life taught me that resistance is futile. You go along for the ride...willing or unwilling...there aren't a whole lot of other options available except going along for the ride.

Some years ago I was sitting in a family group meeting for Narcotics Anonymous. It was a difficult time and an almost unbearable situation to be in as a parent.

The moderator for the meeting said something that really challenged my thought process. He said to begin to understand how difficult it is for people to change we should all try folding our hands together opposite of how we always do it. He said, "it will feel weird, it will feel wrong, and you will want to fold your hands the other way because that is what you know."
And he was right.

It did feel weird.

It did feel wrong.

And I struggled through the rest of that emotional meeting trying to keep my hands folded differently.

Lately it seems that there is a lot of struggle all around me. In my family, in the world, in friends struck by sadness and grief.

And sometimes I find myself almost angry. And exhausted from trying to accept so many changes all the time.

Sometimes I just want a moment to get my bearings...and to have, perhaps, five minutes to exhale before the tide changes again.

But life isn't really like that.

This morning when I went to a neighbors house to help her pick peaches from her over-laden trees, the desire to slow things down was on my mind. While I was picking peaches I realized how often I'd done this before. On different trees. In different places. With different people.

And yet some part of it remained the same...

There was still the astonishing burst of sweetness when you bite into the sun-warmed fruit, and the juice running down your chin, and the sticky fingers, and the intoxicating fragrance, and the excited buzzing of the bees. The gloss of the leaves was the same, the steps of the ladder were the same, the sense of losing your balance trying to reach just one more perfect peach slightly beyond the stretch of your hand...all the same.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Things do not change; we change."

But do we?

Do we change, or do we add more layers of awareness every time that tide goes in and out?

Or do we just learn to adapt quicker and less emotionally with the ebb and the flow.

I'm not really sure.

What I do know is that when I try and fold my hands in the opposite way, it just doesn't ever really feel right at all.

And I'm wondering if maybe I just need to practice.

And I'm wondering if I practice a lot how long it will take for my hands to feel right.

And how long it will take for change to feel like nothing more than a sun-warmed peach in my hand. ...
...

PS. I am fine. Just feeling philosophical. And wanting to share these deep thoughts with you.

post signature

50 comments:

Viki said...

This was really deep in a good way ;-) This I think is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn especially when a person likes to be in control. I'm still learning all the time.

Sami said...

If someone would have come to me 5 years ago and told me where I would be today, and all the things I would have gone through and shouldered on the way... I would have just laughed. Where I am now is so far away from what I was then in a number of ways. It would have been absurd!

But, here I am... life sure is crazy, and I'm kind of waiting for the part where it gets 'easy', you know, where you're not dealing with issue after issue or waiting for the other shoe to drop. ... I don't know where the heck that is, but I'm sure it'll be great when it gets here!! :)

Jocelyn said...

Well Jenny...I am a substance abuse counselor and we have done this exercise with the folding of the hands many times.....It is difficult and I practice it myself....Change is scary....it is difficult because it means that we have to be willing to do something new.....old behaviors are so much easier to do than new ones...Our minds tell us to go back to the way we know....

I have found that change is best when done in small steps and is life not a learning process....I remember how determined my daughter was to walk and the process in which this happened....crawling....hanging on to furniture and then that first step...shaking, off balance and then boom.....a fall...but just like this experience...we just keep getting up and trying it again...How boring would our lives be to be PERFECT at everything we do!!!

Trying yes...it has been one of those weeks...but your post has reminded me to fold those hands a different way today and see how it feels...

Oh the peaches....I can remember the days of visiting my grandmother in Georgia and picking peaches....the smell, the taste...the pure experience...

Thank you for sharing this with us today!!!!

Wishing you wonderful Memorial Weekend....look at the blessings that we have as a country...we are free!!!!

Love ya girlie and so sorry for writing a book today!!! You inspire me!!!

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

"PS. I am fine. Just feeling philosophical. And wanting to share these deep thoughts with you."

And it's OK to "be philosophical." And to ponder deep thoughts, and wonder-ings. But to be just fine.

And I still send you... Lots of gentle hugs.

Janet Johnson said...

I'm a funny banana who actually likes change. Sometimes I'll create it if things seems too stagnant . . .

But honestly, I hope we change . . . strip off those imperfect layers and replace them with shiny, new ones. With new opportunities to grow and become better.

But the folding arms thing? Definitely weird.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Great post Jen.

5thsister said...

It is hard.

It is challenging.

Many cathartic tears shed along the way as well.

I don't know where this "change" is taking me but I do know this...I'm hanging on for dear life!

Thank you for wonderfully thoughtful post. I needed to hear some pearls of wisdom this day, my 1st day back at home.

Terry said...

It's funny you should post this today, because just last night I was thinking about how different I am than I was even a year ago. For some reason I realized I don't often yell at the kids anymore. And I NEVER throw things or slam doors in anger (I used to do that a lot). I think changing is about growing up, accepting what is, and still living your life in the best way possible. Sometimes we succeed at that and sometimes we don't. It's all part of the process. And thank goodness for the process! It makes our lives better when we let it! :0)

LemonyRenee' said...

Much like you feel about that quote, I feel about this post. I could have written this -- not as eloquently, but these are my thoughts.

Here's what hold me back: If I force myself to fold my hands the other way from now on, what if pretty soon neither way feels right?

I love this post, Jenny. I think you understand why.

Chatty Crone said...

A lot to think about - I enjoyed it - sandie

mrs. c said...

I feel that change is good, but hard. I think that we must get "outside the box" and really try to see thrings from many different prospectives. When you get to be our age, we have gone through so many cycles, I know I have learned something from each time I have faced a crisis, but do those lesson stay with us? Kinda like the folding of our hands, do we revert back to what is comfortable or do we continue to try to change? To me, change is good and I will keep trying to learn and grow.

Vicki said...

Great wisdom to share today Jenny.

For me, I've been folding my hands differently all my life. To have things not change would be a change. And we go on, with whatever we define as comfort.

Enjoy your little comfort spot, eating your peaches (o:

Pondside said...

Wow, Jenny - that was a good one.
I work with people for whom change isn't just good - it's essential. Every day I watch them as they work SO hard to live life in a new way. I believe in the capacity of people to change, but I know that it requires huge commitment, vigilance, support and self-awareness.
What a great post for me to read before heading off to work!

Jeanie said...

I think you hit on one of the keys to dealing with change in describing your memories about picking peaches and the things about it that remained the same. You may have had your hands folded differently in that meeting and been there to deal with changes you could have never imagined, but none of that changed what you have in your heart for your daughter. Change may never feel like a sun warmed peach in your hand, but your sense of the sameness of how it feels is your forever.

Peppermint Patty said...

Thank you for your post. Much appreciated especially in light of my current "challenges." :)

GFDINER - Kathy said...

Thanks boy did I need this today. I'm going thru major changes. Moving/downsizing and starting new job next week. Won't be able to foster dogs, so major changes coming. I'm scared but must move forward. Have a great weekend.

Thanks for your lovely thoughts.

Paula said...

Very lovely post Jenny. I feel this way alot...how old do I have to be to feel like things are slowing down? Will I be young enough to feel it and maybe even enjoy it? Life.
hugs,
paula:)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I loved reading this Jenny.
I love seeing all your different side. You have given me some things to ponder..as I am finding change to be a difficult part of life.
Hugs,
Suz

Mariliz said...

Thank you so much for sharing this....I'm sure many of us feel this way, too often. I recently lost a longtime friend to cancer, and it has changed who I am, how I think, what I want etc....Change is hard.

Linda said...

Great post Jenny. I am going through so many changes right now and it is uncomfortable. I will survive them and hopefully even thrive. Thanks for the deep thoughts!

Meri Wiley said...

Dearest Jenny,

Thank you for sharing your insides & insights. It makes us so much more human and reachable when we do. Do you remember the time when it was thought as a weakness to be so insightful? I do, so long ago, back in the time before the 60's, back when you were the perfect housewife, hostess, etc., and you didn't have problems..........egads, no wonder they developed so many drugs!

I, like you, have been pulled along the tide of helplessness with family members. The absolute futility of the situation, and why you can't fix it, or make it better, is paralyzing, mind-numbing and so very painful.

Will they ever really grow out of it? Will they ever really change? Sadly, only they can determine it, and those of us who care so deeply, and hurt so badly have to stumble along in the dark waiting to see if the light finally comes on.

I hear you, I acknowledge you, and if you ever want to come over and spill guts.....bring it on girlfriend.

Love ya'
Meri

Tracy said...

Jenny I know what you mean about change. I have been in a changing world since last August and to be honest I hate it. I would much rather v=be happily married to my husband and have my kids all loving their Dad but that is not the case. The road I am on is full of twists and turns and roundabouts that I just don't know which exit to follow.
All I know is that God is there by my side and all I can do is trust him. This weekend I have friends coming down and I so wish we were going out as a foursome . Lonliness is the hard part I am praying for a companion but know God will send one when the time is right Thanks for your post

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Woot! You're going to get some Band of Horses tunes on your iPod!

I love each and every one of the tracks on this Infinite Arms tape but not everyone would. Please take a listen, at the above click-able link. See which you really like/want first. I particularly like 'Laredo,' 'On My Way Back Home,' 'Dilly,' 'Older,' Compliments'...

But as I said, I love 'em all. :-)

Marlene said...

I'm guessing it was very difficult, but maybe somewhat liberating to write this. :) Love your peaches, wanna shake your tree..oh wait - that's a song, and not quite what I meant to say. I love the peaches, though!

Sue said...

I really liked this post because it resonates with me. I have been in group meetings with a struggling, addicted son and wondered how we ever got to such a place.

Happily, he's learned that sobriety is a good thing.

Still, I've spent years learning how to feel more comfortable with my hands crossed the "wrong" way. Adjusting to chronic illness has helped me advance this cause. (Thorns in the flesh are great teachers.) It reminds me of my favorite scripture in Philippians: "I have learned, in whatsoever condition I am in, therewith to be content." I hope, one day, to come to as good a resolution with that as Paul seems to have done.

=)

Cheryl D. said...

Thanks for sharing those deep thoughts. I know I'm pretty stuck in my days and have a hard time changing. It really doesn't come very naturally to us. Great, introspective post!

Dolly said...

Thank you Jenny.....
This inspires me!

Hugz, Dolly

mub said...

Okay, I'm laughing at myself because the whole time I was reading this I thought "This is just like me! I'm so lousy at change!" But when I -really- look at things I'm actually not too shabby. SO your deep philosophical thoughts have made me realize something about myself. I might not LOVE change but I can deal with it and that is just plain awesome to realize.

Lourie said...

I am going to share this with my mom. Particularly the hands exercise. She has many people in her house who NEED to change and just are not. This might help her when she is frustrated with their behaviors.

Parsley said...

Thought provoking. I've been feeling similar ramblings going on in my own mind. Perhaps one day soon, I too will post on these layers of thought.

Sandy Shin said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, this piece of wisdom with us. Walden's quote is spot on. Often times, it's difficult to change. Almost impossible, at times. But you're right -- you have to go with the flow, willing or unwilling. For many things, I do think practice makes a difference: such as folding your hands the opposite way. :)

Ms. Anthropy said...

If you figure it out, PLEASE enlighten me! I don't deal with changes well, at all.

cjschlottman said...

Jenny, Change has to be thrust upon me, always has been. I, too, have had family issues involving addiction and tremendous loss. If we don't change, and believe me, I never want to, we find ourselves overrun not only by our own issues but everyone else's too. It is a painful process. As you know, I lost my husband last year, and I have been forced to become a different person. I can't be his wife any more, but who am I? Still evolving, still suffering, I see small changes along this awful road. Thanks for opening the door for me to spill this out.

RACHELLE said...

oh man do i know what you mean about wanting to cling to the familiar.... and i had to gigle cuz i tried the hand folding thing and it was SO TRUE! i wanted to fold my hands back to my norm position SO BAD. i believe that most of my issues of feeling "paralyzed" and unmotivated come from the fear of getting out of my normal routine. CHANGE. it is scary. i love the saying that " our greatest fear is not that we will fail, but that we will succeed beyond our wildest dreams.... i am scared to succeed too beg and then be stuck having to keep up with that pressure...ugh. sorry i just went off on a tangent...love your post though!

shell

gypsylemonade.blogspot.com

jeff campbell said...

Jenny, this is your best work yet! What ever word you want to give it we are all constantly changing as well as the world around us. It was this realization some years ago that caused me to pause and think that if (most)everything about me and around me is changing, then why not my spiritual self...dogma be damned...it set me free...free to be who I think God, or the powers that be, want me to be...not what someone else thinks I should be. So, back to you and 'change'...just like that peach tree changes in shape, size, ebb and flow of bud to petal to flower to fruit, so shall you change. It is inevitable dear Jenny. Sure would like some of those peaches:-)

Theresa said...

WOW, DEEP thinking my friend! Makes my head hurt a little! Things change in our lives and we can either change or not! I try to go with the flow! Have a blessed weekend my friend! HUGS!

Nadeen said...

I wish I had time to read all the reflections here. You've hit a cord.

Probably because we all deal with change.

28 years ago, when I moved from a trailer house to and brand new home, I cried (for heaven sakes!). How dumb is that? But it was change.


The many sides of Jenny. Amen.
I Love You, Girlee!

Sares said...

I am one that hates change. Sad because I probably miss out on some great experiences. And life rolls on...

Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Meggie said...

Wow! That was quite philosophical, indeed. I think people need to step out of their comfort zones a bit more often. Perhaps then change wouldn't be so intimidating. I'd rather be a bit unfomfortable than be left "in the dust." Change is a vital part of growth. Stagnating is the alternative. Thanks for your words of wisdome.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I have always struggled with the apprehension of change more than the change itself. I'm so aware that I start many of my sentences with "what if". I do think we get a little tougher as we get older...but, you and I both know that even when we feel that our skin is thicker, there is always something new that will cut through it when we don't expect it. I hope you really are okay.

Sue

Mami said...

Thank you for sharing a good thought and words- "Things do not change; we change." Yes..perhaps
and I am glad to have thinking time with you in english.

Not sure change to ourselves or sometimes change the enviorment

La Bella Vie said...

Dearest Jenny,
I could not have summed up what I am going through and feeling right now in my own personal life any better than this beautiful, very moving post from you. Change in life for me is just THE most difficult thing I deal with and I find that when change is in my face I dig my heels in even harder than usual. I am an Aries through and through and very strong willed so that in itself makes change harder than it needs to be.
I'd like to just say, yes you said you are Ok just being philosophical but sometimes its just nice to know someone might understand what you feeling right then and there, and right now I do.
I'm sending a hug right now because sometimes that's all we really need to make a change...here you go!
Terry B.

H said...

Usually, I get excited by change when it is initiated by me or it is what I would have chosen.
The changes which are forced on us against our will are another matter. Right now, I am considering what move I should make to try and claw back some control.
So thank you for your post. It is spot on where I am, and, judging by the comments, it is close to a lot of other lives too!
The W H Auden quote is now on the wall by my PC. :)

Aging Mommy said...

I first have to say that this is a wonderfully written, thought provoking post.

I have always been one of those people who thrive on change - I would seek it out, moving jobs, homes, countries, wanting to see the world and do as much as I could with this life of mine. But through it all I still needed some constants in life, like my husband and good friends. So i think we all crave stability in life - we are born that way, I watch my three year old daughter and see how routine driven she is, which is really a coping mechanism for life, and which never leaves us.

New things can be learned, they can become familiar to us also, as long as we are bouyed up by the confidence that having constants and stability elsewhere in life can bring us.

Grams said...

Jenny - Terra tuned me onto your blog. Really enjoy your writing. While reading this moving post it prompted these spontaneous thoughts for me-"awareness" is the growth we experience with the change, the "adapting" is the acceptance of the change, feeling different from the "comfortable" is necessary so we can feel the success of the change, which is the "new comfortable". Thanks for reminding me about the importance of the steps of change. Loved the picking peaches...nice to have some feelings not change!!

Tolentreasures said...

GReat thoughts! I always love to read your posts. Change is constant in my life, not all bad changes...not all good changes. Somewhere along the line, this has just started to seem normal. Take care.

Cathy

Rebecca S. said...

I'll never forget the first Vancouver apartment I had with my sister after I left home. You could pick a peach from the kitchen window and eat it for breakfast, warm and juicy. As to change, I do think we just learn to take life as it comes a little better - as we age and endure things that are hard. I think it's called wisdom.

BECKY said...

Oh so true, and quite universal, I think. Great post, Jenny!

Holly said...

I find myself thinking of and struggling with some of these same thoughts. Part of me detests change and the other parts embraces it...but I have to push hard for the embracing part to come to the front.

The concept with the hands s very interesting. I feel this more for my son who struggles with things not being the same all the time.

Julie Schuler said...

Very thought provoking. I'm left wondering whether I like change or not. I feel sad that I've never picked a peach.