Thursday, August 30, 2007

Currents and eddies


From conception to death, change is the one and only constant in our short lives. Most of us try to compensate for this by clinging to the familiar, like a victim of shipwreck clinging to a peice of driftwood. We form customs, habits, rituals that we perform every day to give us some illusion of stability, but like that driftwood, these things are rather small and insignificant compared to the rolling waves and powerful currents flowing around us. A select few embrace change, throwing caution to the wind and leaping through the water like a dolphin --or sometimes drowning like the shipwrecked person who lets go of the driftwood-- but these adventurers are rare among people, rarer still because few of us can easily withstand change without a stable reference point. Despite my fantasies to the contrary, I am no adventurer. I resist change with every fibre of my being. I cling to nostalgia, to the comfortable, to the familiar. Yet change is irresistable. It marches on inexorably. There is no way to stop it, or even slow it down. It will happen.

I'm growing old. I am not old yet, I'm not even "middle-aged." I'm thirty-four. I start a new job next week, my son starts his second year of school on Tuesday. My daughter just turned two. And yet it seems only yesterday I was starting school. My parents were the age I am now. My grandmother, now a ninety-four year old invalid, was in her sixties and baby-sat us regularly. I watch my parents not without a touch of horror, when my children are grown, that will be them, if they are even alive. I have the uncertainty of a new job, and I watch my children get more mature every day, and it scares me. It all happens so quickly, and it passes us by, and is gone except in our memories. What sadistic twist of nature gave us this yearning for stability in a universe where nothing is stable? While I am a hedonist who enjoys every pleasure life has to offer and wouldn't trade them for anything, I can understand, at least somewhat, why some poor souls choose to end it all, for death is the final change for all of us, after which we finally have an eternity of stable oblivion.

And yet, change is not an evil. If my children were infants forever I certainly would not be happy about it. It gives me great happiness to see their every accomplishment, to teach them. My pride at seeing them grow is unmatched. How could I set that aside? My love for my husband, my girlfriend, they both grow with each year. Romance in infancy may be exciting, but if allowed to mature rather than withering, it becomes more satisfying. Change is who we are. We can thrive in it, if we allow ourselves to do so. How can I help myself do this? How do I set aside this dark dread of change and instead embrace the possibilities that change can bring?

If I can figure that out, I know I'll lower my stress levels considerably.

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