Friday, January 29, 2010

The More Things Change . . .

Today's topic is on the inevitability of change.  I think I read somewhere that, for the most part, people fear change.  They wear a groove in their days, get settled into it, and are happy to mete out happiness in small doses for the rest of their lives.

I don't believe this is unique to our species.  I'm pretty sure if you made a mouse reasonably comfortable in an environment a mouse would not normally favor -- say, a bird's nest -- the mouse would learn to love the place, and, after a number of weeks, would refuse to leave, even if you offered it the Beverly-Hills standard of mouseholes.

So it is with us.  We find ourselves in a predictable, bland, but safe and comfy enough place, and it's hard to be shaken out of it.  We cling to our homes, our friends, and our routines with the tenacity of an eagle with a fish in claw.  Despite our constant griping and complaining about the consequences of the actions of other people, we would balk if faced with a real opportunity at growth or change.

This could be good, actually; it reassures me that on some unconscious level, most people do count their blessings, every day, enumerating the things in their environments they do not think they could live without.

But why, if a chance to grow and prosper is presented, do we run?  Why do we fear the difference?

We're taught from very young that change is a threat.  If you're currently employed, think about the risk of giving up your steady, aggravating, but routine job for the chance to do what you dream for a living.  There is no guarantee of success.  There is only the act of walking away from your steady paycheck and plunging all of your newly acquired free time into your passion.

Would you do it?  Would you trade your known lifestyle for the unknown?

Most of us would say no.  How do I know?  Because every one of us makes that decision every morning.  Very few of us have the luxury of doing what we love for a living, right this moment, but we fear taking the step out of the airplane and plunging to ground without at least a parachute.  I know I do.

But, if you really think about it, change is constant.  The life you considered comfortable and adequate three years ago is gone now.  Maybe it's a baby that came into a long-established relationship.  Maybe it's the news that a loved one was lost overseas in a foreign war.  Maybe it was the loss of a job, an unexpected move, or a sudden discovery of wealth or prosperity that hadn't existed before.

My point is this: When change is forced on us, we adapt.  We can do that; humans are very flexible, adaptable creatures.  When that happens, those around you offer to pitch in, help out, and cushion the blow, all the while praising your courage in the face of adversity.  Sometimes, those changes work out for the best.  If nothing else, it can serve to make us stronger and more aware of our weaknesses.

But Heaven help the poor soul who decides to initiate the change in their lives.  People cluck their tongues and scratch their heads, almost eager for the negative outcome so they can crow, "Well, you brought it on yourself.  You have no one to blame but yourself.  Why would you mess up the great life you had?"

Even though I'm one of the Chicken Littles, paranoid over the perception of a falling sky, I have to say this: I know why, now.  I understand why it's sometimes necessary to mess up a great life in search of a greater one.  It's those of us who seek greener pastures that find them, after all.


  1. I initiated the change. Look what it's doing to me. Sometimes it's tougher than we thought, even if we've spent nearly 40 years doing it before we decide to launch out on our own.

    I could go into the long, long list of things that have happened on a personal level since I left the university and went full time, and I could go into the even longer list of things - good and bad - that have happened on a professional level.

    The learning curve has been immense in the last six months. In another year, I'll probably look back and say, "Wow, this was rough." But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

  2. I'm a big advocate of shaking things up . . .

    Dance in the Midst of Uncertainty:

    Just Leap and the Net Appears:

    In Uncertainty Lies All Possibility . . .