Change is definitely on my mind these days.
The only constant in this life is change so why do I have such a difficult time accepting it at times? It is very easy to accept and embrace change when it supports my vision of how things should be. On the flip side, resistance rises up when change challenges that same vision. Then I have the urge to manipulate and control events in attempt to stop or minimize change.
Recently, on the morning of my youngest child’s graduation from high school, I walked into our store and found a huge mess. The carcass of a huge rhododendron we had rescued from the clutches of a bramble patch, lovingly mounted on a stand and adorned with merchandise, lay in a heap on the floor. The merchandise was scattered amongst the broken branches and shards of glass. The trunk of the rhododendron was not as sound as we had believed and had sheared off at the mounting after standing strong for well over a year.
Endings and beginnings.
Why did the tree break on this day? There was no wind or other force tugging at it. What did this mean? Was it a sign? My mind wanted to figure it out just like it wanted to figure out my son’s future. His plans for the future are less than shaky, he doesn’t have any. I want for him what I lacked as a child, stability. That solid sense of knowing where I am, where I am going and how I am going to get there. You know, having my act together, being in control. How in the world can my son survive let alone flourish without a plan?
The thing is, solid plans may not be as sound as we believe them to be. Life happens. Plans change.
My life as a parent is ending. His life as an adult is beginning. I will always be his mom but what that means as a role is changing. On some days I embrace those changes as he becomes more responsible and more independent. On other days I resist the changes as I feel less needed, less sure of what the future will feel like. When I resist, I feel a familiar pain. Having experienced enormous amounts of change in my life, I know that accepting change is less painful so why do I resist?
Perhaps the answer is in understanding that acceptance does not mean liking. I can accept and dislike change at the same time. Or maybe it is about balance. Standing in the middle of change, looking forward and feeling joy as new experiences enter, looking backward and feeling sad as old experiences leave.
Just like the rhododendron. I felt sad when it collapsed, I loved that tree. Then we cleaned up the mess and took the tree to the green dump. There was a large hole where the tree once stood. We moved the huge fig tree from the back of the store to take its place. Its green leafy branches spread across the front windows embracing the evening sun. I hung the merchandise on its sturdy living branches with confidence. Now I look at this new display and feel great joy.
Hmm, maybe the best thing I can do is work on the skills that allow me to adapt. Things like cleaning up the mess when my plans collapse, feeling sad as I say good bye to that which I loved, and allowing new plans to fill the hole and feeling the joy of new experiences that slide into that hole. Essentially, Be Present for the entire experience.
One of the simplest adaptive skills is awareness. The thing is that simple does not equal easy. It takes practice to integrate awareness to my daily routine. What I find useful is to identify key words to alert me for the need to be aware. The key word for resistance is ”should’. I should have … I should be …. I should do. Should, should , should.
The practice then becomes whenever I hear someone tell me ‘should’ or when I notice ‘should’ pop out my mouth or rattle around in my head, I take a moment to be aware. ‘Hey, this is resistance’.
This is all that is required. Perspective and experience will shift naturally and organically. If you feel so inspired journal what you experience right after you notice the word ‘should’.