Monday, July 7, 2008

Blowing In The Wind

I had this post almost fully written about my vacation with my family and how awesome it was, and how we had quality together time and played charades, and blah blah blah happy vacation-cakes.

But I'm not feeling it.

And so today, I read one of Beth's posts, and then I went to the bathroom and cried a little. Because she was so honest, and so brave, two qualities in which I've been lacking.

So I've decided to switch gears. You see, there are some Changes-With-A-Capital-C that are about to happen in my life. I'm not ready to give you specifics just yet, but trust me. This is major.

These are good changes. Fabulous even. But it is undeniable that my life will be Different.

And I am scared shitless.

For months, I have been avoiding this. I have tried to talk as little as possible with my friends about these happenings, which I think, surprises them since, like I said, these are good changes. Instead, I have been hanging on, bitterly, to my old, same life. I clutch at the days, fighting the imminent passage of time. And I can't. As much as I wish I could, I can't stop time.

What am I so afraid of? Everything and nothing. In fact, there is no one thing that I can point to, and say, "This makes me afraid." Instead, it is change itself that scares me.

And it occurs to me, that this same fear of change can be applied to the environmentalist movement. I can sit here and wonder, "How can people bury their head in the sand when the world is in crisis?" but am I any better? In fact, I'm worse because I'm sitting here burying my head in the sand because of upcoming GOOD changes. Is it any wonder then, that when environmentalists tell people that the icebergs are melting, and that life as we know it is in peril, that people put hands over their ears and sing all, "Lalala I can't HEAAAR YOOOOUUU!!" It's a coping mechanism. And it's human.

But it's not working. Not for me. And not for the rest of us. And so, today, I remind myself, it is okay to be afraid. But it is not okay for me to be ruled by fear. Because it's tried and trite, but I find FDR's quote really true here, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

See, the truth is, human beings are adaptable. Extremely so. And thus, the fear of change is often much worse than the change itself.

I will be fine. We will be fine. It won't be easy, but we will learn to adapt, as we have always done. Because we are stronger than we think we are.

When my father died at the same time my mother was diagnosed with cancer, several people said to me, "I don't know how you handle all that. You're so strong." And as much as I understood what they meant, I always found such sentiments kind of funny. How did I handle it? What choice did I have? The world wasn't going to stop turning, and I wasn't going to spontaneously die of grief, though I occasionally wished I would. I had to handle it. And so, given no other option but to be strong, I was ... strong. 

Until you are tested, you never really know your own strength, I don't think. But when push comes to shove, you are reminded that yes, you are strong. And so now, I look at women like Crunchy and Leila, who are dealing with personal adversity, and I remember, that yes, these are two incredibly strong, brave women. That they are able to laugh, and make their readers laugh in spite of the difficulties they face is amazing. But Crunchy and Leila are not unique. I say this, not to take away from their courageousness, which is truly inspiring, but because I believe we ALL have the capacity to be as courageous as Crunchy and Leila. 

And so, right now, as I anticipate the major changes that are soon to come, I am going to reach deep down and try and pull up that strength and bravery that I know are in me, somewhere. Because change is scary, but deep in my heart, I know, I KNOW, there ain't nothing I can't handle.

For those of you reading who aren't so sure. Who are scared of change, who don't think you could survive if X were to happen? I am going to look you straight in the eye, and say, "Yes. Yes you would survive." I'm not saying it would be easy, that there wouldn't be a period of adjustment, that there wouldn't be grief, tears, anger, or throwing things. But the point is, you would survive. And eventually, you might even thrive.

That's the hope I'm going to leave you with. Thriving. Because while certain changes, like losing a loved one, are undeniably bad, and some are definitely good, sometimes a change you think is going to be bad and difficult, actually ends up being easier and more fun than you would imagine. Sometimes, a change will do you good.

27 comments:

Green Bean said...

Bravo! I'm right there with ya, sister.

Several years ago, something really bad happened to me. Something I never thought anyone could survive. Guess what. I survived. I'm stronger, surer of myself, know that there ain't nothing I can't beat - even climate change.

We all need to remember that we can survive, adapt, thrive.

What an honest post, Arduous. And how powerful for us and you to embrace change - take it by the hand and say, yes, we will get through this and, on the other side, will be better for it. Thank you for this.

hypoglycemiagirl said...

Changes are difficult indeed, but I'm glad you have some good ones coming up. You've made me very curious!

Burbanmom said...

Great post, Arduous. Like Christopher Robin told Winnie the Pooh,

"you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think".

We are all tested at different times in our lives. But the true testament to the human spirit is that we are all still here.

Therefore, we must all be survivors.

Joyce said...

Yes! People are amazingly resilient, and the average, ordinary person always rises to the occasion and not only survives, but does the right thing in the process. We can do this.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Always remember, if we didn't have change we wouldn't need piggy banks!
Jokes, I just thought since your changes are good I could be a little silly.
But really, it is important that you are confronting your feelings about change and that you are sharing about the feelings. So many people have those feelings.

Bugs and Brooms said...

Good for you Arduous! This post is encouraging to me - thank you so much.

Jennifer said...

Change... you can't grow without change. Growing can be painful at times, and it can be wonderful...

Chile said...

For many of the changes I've gone through, I had to be dragged - kicking and screaming - only to find out that my life was better after the change. I think you are right on in your analysis that fear of change is very powerful.

Courage, Ardous, courage. Facing change head-on is so much easier on the self than being dragged. Easier on the floors, too!

eco 'burban mom said...

Embracing change is tough, good or bad. Some of the best changes of my life (having children, marriage) were the happiest changes and the hardest changes I experienced. They still challenge me daily, and yet I wouldn't go back - not even for a moment.

I am sure you will embrace the change, run with it and you will find that it makes you better, strong and wiser. Best of luck Arduous!

Bobbi said...

I have survived the death of my baby sister - now I feel I can survive anything.

Nice post!

okham said...

These are good changes. Fabulous even. But it is undeniable that my life will be Different [...] What am I so afraid of? Everything and nothing. [...]

It has surely nothing to do with your own situation, but I'll post this anyway.
Reading your post gave me a very strange feeling, and in my mind brought back part of my past. I was almost hearing myself talking twenty-one years ago, pretending to be happy about impending change that everyone around me thought was wonderful (actually it would have been, had that kind of life worked for me).
I also thought I was afraid of change, but now I know it was not that. I was not afraid of "change" per se, I was afraid of that change. Because deep down I knew it was not what I wanted.

People kept wondering what was wrong with me, asking "come on, are you not excited ?", and I kept replying "yeah... I guess..". And I also did not particularly want to talk about the future...
I tried to fool myself into thinking that maybe it was going to work, after all. But it did not work.

And so, after a few months of "change", I decided to... change again, this time on my terms. I made the most important decision of my life, and left it all behind, making everyone wonder whether I was crazy, given that many would have killed to have what I had. Never looked behind.

Anyway, sorry for the intrusion... just wanted to rant a bit (that's what you get for buying slow computers that make you wait for the answer :-)

Natalie said...

Ooo. I'm so curious what your Change may be!?

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I feel like I've watched you grow up a bit over the last few months. Perhaps you've already begun The Change without knowing it. ??

You are strong and persistent and centered and funny and wildly intelligent and open-minded and an awesome ctitical thinker. You, girl, will be just fine no matter what life throws at you. Regardless of how brave you are, it's okay to hide your face and be scared of change. I would worry if you never doubted yourself. Questioning yourself and questioning your chosen path makes you stronger and more aware. Keep questioning until you have the right answer.

Good luck (or is it Best Wishes?) with your new endeavor. But please don't leave us, if at all possible. I need the occasionaly Arduous Blog post from time to time!

abbie said...

I absolutely agree with you that humans can change, adapt, evolve, to survive. We survived an Ice Age, for goodness sake. We can survive the big issues, like running out of oil, climate change, as well as the small changes that are big to us as individuals. I believe that we are in charge of our own happiness. I don't believe in destiny or anything like that. I think our lives are what we make them. It's OK to be scared, but how we handle changes is up to us.

Beany said...

Ooo hope you share your changes with the friends inside your computer.

Like Chile, I am flat out terrified of change. I hate change. And I have very little faith in anything. Coupled with my new found ability to have panic attacks I don't see a strong beany coming out of the upcoming changes anytime soon.

However, I read this quote somewhere recently. Someone famous dude or the other said something like: would you rather regret something you did do or something you didn't do? For some reason I found that very comforting.

---
P.S. I used dude...my Cal-I-Forn-I-A skillz are kewl! (and I used this new misspelling). See? I can change too from typing in English to D-U-M-B. :)

Feeling a bit loopy here.

arduous said...

Thanks, GB. Now instead of just talking about embracing change, I have to act on it! That's the hard part.

HGG, thanks!

Burbs, that Christopher Robin, he was a smart boy. Thanks for the quote.

Joyce, you are absolutely right. Not EVERY person rises to the occasion, but the AVERAGE person does. And that is unbelieveably comforting.

Equa Yona, silliness is always welcome!!

Bugs and Brooms, glad I could encourage you.

Jennifer, you're right. Without change there would be no growth. That wouldn't be any good!

Chile, you're right to think of the floors!! I will try and be more courageous. I don't want to scratch up all the floors because I'm scared of change. ;)

EBM, thank you!!

Bobbi, I am sorry for your loss, but I totally get what you are saying. Once you go through something that heartbreaking, you realize how strong you really are.

Okham, thanks for your thoughts. You'll be happy to know that it doesn't really apply to my situation, but you make a very valid point. That sometimes when we fear change, there's a very good reason why we fear change. OTOH, just because a bride gets cold feet, doesn't mean she doesn't want to get married. But I wonder, do you think you would have had the courage to make the change that was really right for you, if you hadn't done that other thing for three months? Maybe you would have, but I really do think that things happen the way they happen for a reason. Maybe you had to make the ill-fitting change, in order to get to the place in your life where you could make the good change? Or maybe not ... don't want to presume anything, but just wondered what you thought. :)

Natalie, I promise you, that my Change does not involve any plans to give up my blog. No worries. Thanks for your kind words. I know, I'm so sorry to talk about this and leave you hanging as to what this change is, but I promise you, soon enough you'll find out.

arduous said...

Abbie, right on! We survived the Ice Age, we can survive this. I agree with you that we do create our own happiness.

Beany, anyone contemplating moving across the US by way of a cross-country bike trip is pretty dern strong!! You're already a strong Beany.

okham said...

But I wonder, do you think you would have had the courage to make the change that was really right for you, if you hadn't done that other thing for three months ?

Five actually :-)
You may well be right in that, if I had not tried the "other thing" first, I would not have realized to the full extent how much it really did not work for me...
on the other hand, had I not tried it, there would not have been anything else but the "right" change... so, it's hard for me to say.

I figured it would not have anything to do with your situation, it's just that your words resonated with my own experience, albeit for different reasons.

Fix said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. My life became a rocking boat, changing all the time. So I created Fix to make some little changes that I could have some control over. And sometimes I think that's what the personal environmental movement is about - people making little changes because the big ones are so big, and so out of our control - ahem, corporations, governments, and G8 - that we need to do something NOW. So when people ask me what I learned from Fix, I come up with something fluffy because the real things I learned about my life and myself would take a long, long time. Maybe I'll write a book about it someday, if the boat stops rocking.

All this is to say that maybe you've uncovered some of your own reasons for making your changes in the past year...and to congratulate you on touching so many people in the process!

Megan

Melissa said...

arduous, you should write a book...you sure know how to build suspense! Good luck with whatever it is (I can't wait to find out!)

beany, I thought the same thing as arduous...I think the bike trip you are contemplating is super brave, don't sell your self short! oh and your Cali lingo reminded me of when I went into the post office the other day. I was just making small talk with the girl working there and commented how it was hot outside. She asked me (with a totally straight face) "Is it hecka hot?" I had to try really really hard to 1) figure out exactly what that meant and 2) not totally crack up laughing.

CAE said...

Can't wait to read about the big exciting change!

Student Doctor Green said...

Change sucks. BUT if anyone can take it on, I know the feisty arduous can.

arduous said...

Okham, I understand. I'm glad my words resonated with you in any case.

Megan, you've hit the nail on the head. I have uncovered many of my reasons for changing. Thanks.

Melissa, thank you. Again, I apologize for keeping you all in suspense. I promise I won't keep you in suspense for very long.

CAE & SDG, thanks for your support!!

Fake Plastic Fish said...

>>and then I went to the bathroom and cried a little<<

I am a crying convert. I believe that the world needs more crying. Less TV, more crying. Less alcohol and cigarettes, more crying. Less war; more crying. Yes, laughter too. But crying is cleansing, lets you release all that pent up emotion without stuffing it down with distractions or exploding it out all over someone else.

I am a very recent convert, so I'm still in the dangerous phase. Be warned!

P.S. Is it me, or are the Word Verifications getting longer and longer?

arduous said...

I think you're right. Crying is important. Sometimes, I get in a funk, and I just have to let myself cry for an hour and get it all out. Nothing like a little cry to release pent up emotions....

Going Crunchy said...

Durn, good words and thoughts Arduous.

My Dad died, um, 4 years ago? I relate. You do find yourself looking deeper into the time that we have and how we chose to spend it.

CAE said...

I cry more as I get older. I barely ever cried in high school or university, but the last few years see me tearing up at really quite minor things sometimes. It's very strange, but it is therapeutic!

Hormones maybe?

arduous said...

Thanks, Shannon. Sorry to hear about your father.

CAE, I've noticed that too. In college, I almost never cried, and now I am a big, big crier. Maybe it is the hormones. Who knows.