If you leave a white fence post alone it becomes a black fence post. So if you want it to stay white, you have to keep painting it white. You want something to stay the same, you’ve got to constantly change it.Joseph Finder
The pace of change in our world at this time seems to be moving faster than the speed of sound. Whether the changes occurring are positive or negative actually seems to be besides the point. It is the impact of the swiftness of changes in our daily lives that seems to have a de-stabilizing force that we all must grabble with.
Whether it is the constantly changing information about the coronavirus at the heart of this pandemic, tectonic shifts in our geopolitical landscape, or simply how to negotiate a family barbecue in the backyard, we seem to be inundated with the need to reconsider many aspects of life. Trying to make good decisions and avoid either over estimating or under estimating risks to avoid contracting COVID-19 can be not just time consuming but confusing and anxiety provoking.
A part of me believed that because I had just transitioned from full time work to semi-retirement thereby causing seismic changes in my life, that I would be fine adjusting to all of the disruptions that seem to be predominating our current reality. Change often represents either a loss or an opportunity. Certainly when I retired, I experienced losses – loss of income, loss of identity; daily contact with colleagues, etc. But since then, it has proven to be an amazing time of opportunity.
My writing practice has evolved to where I had hoped it would be at this point in my “new” career. Pre-pandemic I had satisfying part time work in my profession that kept me in contact with my favourite parts of my “old” world. Courses, new activities, plenty of time for walking with a focus on my own health, and new friendships provided the icing on my cake. So why have the past few months seemed so challenging and fraught with overwhelming changes that are hard to understand and accept.
Journal keeping has been a sporadic practice all through my life but since the end of March I have kept daily notes of thoughts and feelings about the pandemic and so many other pivotal moments in our lives. This morning it felt important to pause and to re-read entries from the past few months. Clearly I was looking for perspective and understanding to ground me.
What stood out upon this reflection was the impact that the many current changes were having on my life and to those close to me. And of course, when I am longing for things to be “the way they used to be” I am inadvertently creating unnecessary stress in my life. It isn’t really a cliche to focus only on what we are able to control. Being able to recognize this is the first step to managing all of the decisions to be made and life changes that must be navigated.
Learning to accept change, and being able to nurture the ability to become more flexible is a critical life skill that helps us to adapt and thrive. It seemed clear to me this morning that this is important not just in these times of our changing landscape but at any point in our lives. Change is inevitable. Learning to cope with it effectively seems more critical now than ever before.
The one thing I believe I can count on is that…everything changes. And it is a comfort to know that with some effort, we can control our responses to that.
Stay healthy and safe!