Monday, April 28, 2014

Keep the Change?

There's an old song by Sam Cooke which says "I know a change gon' come."

This song speaks to me intimately of my mindset for the past several years. Changes, big changes, have moved in on my life. For the most part, these changes have been incredibly positive. I can honestly say my life is in an infinitely better place today than one year ago.

It is no wonder then, given the manifested changes in my life, coupled with the nature of my job, that I have been considering the nature of change for a while now. When I say considering, I am referring to the act of dissecting change in my life and in the universe, over all. It was through the course of these internal dialogues I have wound up challenging my own beliefs about what change is, how it does and should operate,  and what it means for me.

For many years, change was a monster--something to be feared. Sharp, pointy teeth and vicious claws waited to tear me apart. This ravenous beast named Change would devour who I was and what I held important. It should be avoided, in the best of circumstances. It should be terminated with extreme prejudice whenever possible.

This was an attitude of fear & impotence.

But then, through a lot of reflection, I experienced a paradigm shift.

I came to decide change was a painful necessity. I understood, now, the constant nature of change. It is often the only thing on which we can depend--the knowledge that our lives today will morph in some ways to become something else. Sometimes this happens in a day; sometimes it creeps up on us over the years, until, one day, the alteration jumps out at us fully grown. At any rate, I determined change is healthy. It's good for me, just like exercise and spinach.

This was an attitude of resignation and justification.

My thinking then evolved once more. I came to understand change is welcome. We're like leaves caught in a current. Change is a force which carries us along. It moves us forward. Sometimes we run into rocks, or get caught, or maybe even dragged under. No matter. Change is still a powerful force which we should embrace to propel us through life.

This attitude is one of passivity.

I can recall watching Monty Hall on "Let's Make a Deal" when I was little. You might win some fabulous prize, but then...there was a moment of change. You could choose to trade your prize for some unknown treasure. You had no idea if you were exchanging your vacation for a new car or a donkey. All the contestants, though, welcomed the change that happened to them, up until the moment of disappointment. I determined, overall, change is a gift. The only problem is we never know what's in the box we're unwrapping.

This approach toward change is an attitude of uninformed reactivism.

It's only recently I've begun exploring the idea of myself as change. It recently occurred to me that, while I can run from change, allow change to happen to me, or guess blindly at change, I also have the opportunity to actively seek out, evaluate, and implement change for myself and for others. The change resides inside me. I am the agent of change. When I see something broken, it's the change living in me that will bring restoration.

There is empowerment and liberation in this attitude.

There is also heavy responsibility.

Change won't only affect me. It will affect everyone and everything I touch. It would, therefore, behoove me to ensure I'm making wise, empathetic changes. Change for the sake of change often can be the monster I feared. Change without planning can be the goat in a box. Yet, I have the opportunity to light the world on fire with the change burning in my gut.

And so do you. There is a flame of change specific to you waiting to ignite the world.
We need to open the windows of ourselves, give it some oxygen, and fan it.

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