British philosopher, Alan Watts said, “The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Hmm…..Alan Watts never met me.
Sure, these are words to live by, but how many of us find this easy? As for me, I will say upfront that I HATE change. Of course, as they say, the only thing that is constant is change, but it doesn’t mean I need to embrace it. When a restaurant changes its menu, it bothers me. When a favorite manicurist leaves, I am sure I will have raggedy looking nails forever. And when the Astros moved to the American League, you’d have thought my children left me. (OK, the way the Astros have been playing, I don’t watch at all, but that’s a different story.) And why do social rules have to keep changing? Can men wear hats inside? Do you wear hose with open toed shoes? And, honestly, can we really wear white after Labor Day? Doesn’t anything stay the same? It makes me crazy. So as you see, change is not my friend.
If a sub-par baseball team leaving the National League throws me off balance, you can imagine how I react to changes that actually affect me! One of the hardest changes for me was when I took a leap of faith and left my “forever” job to spend more time writing and exploring different options. Many of us are defined by what we do, and I was definitely one of those people. I was afraid I would have no identity if I left. I loved what I did, but it was time for a change. However, at first, I didn’t handle it well. I had been a teacher for so long, that if I was out for lunch in the middle of the day, I felt like I was skipping school. I spent more time hiding behind menus than I did eating. I was afraid someone would spot me and think I was slacking off. After lunch, I wandered the aisles of the office supply stores swooning over the markers and pens. I had a hard time going to dinner without telling the patrons to line up quietly and wait their turn. I even corrected everyone’s grammar on a daily basis (OK, I still do that.) It was not an easy change, but not my most difficult.
Thirty years ago I hesitantly embraced a long distance move. I told myself it would be an adventure. Unfortunately, I’m not that adventurous. My husband was transferred, so we sold our house, left our friends, and moved with two very young children. We were sent to a place that was completely foreign to me; a place where I’d rarely have a good hair day again, and where I did not know a soul. My husband did know one family, and on our first day in town, he took me to their home to meet them. As we walked into the house, the person who would become a dear friend was performing what I thought was some bizarre ritual. She was tracking an uninvited guest, Hurricane Alicia, on the back of a grocery bag. Back home we had coupons and ads on the back of our grocery bags, not hurricane tracking charts! It was one of those surreal moments where I wondered if I’d fallen down the rabbit hole. I managed, however, to shake my head when she told me to tape my windows that night. Unfortunately, I used Scotch tape, completely misunderstanding the reason for taping windows. I spent the next twenty years peeling sticky stuff off the glass. But it was what happened on the way to their house that had me wondering if I could really survive this change in location and life style. We were driving down a highway, and I noticed a bumper sticker that said “Proud to be a KiKKer.” The Ks were drawn to look like little cowboy boots, but they looked like Ls to me. The conversation in the car went something like this:
Me: Proud to be a killer!? Where in God’s name did you bring us?
Hubby: No, those are Ks.
Me: KKK?! We’re in Klan territory?!
Hubby: No, it’s just a country station.
Me: What country??!
Of course, I survivd the move, raised my kids here, and can’t imagine living anywhere else. My kids don’t admit that they’re not native Texans, and they love everything Texas; at least Houston and Austin. As far as leaving that long term job, it was scary, but my life settled down to a new normal, and all is good. (Yes, it is correct to use the adjective “good” as opposed to the adverb “well” after a linking verb!) I am very lucky to still work with kids, write, do what I love, and have the flexibility to go out to lunch without hiding.
Of course, most changes are not as monumental as uprooting a family or as trivial as the loss of the number two combination plate. Most fall somewhere in between those extremes. People come in and out of our lives, and life doesn’t move in a straight line. Life’s roads are filled with unexpected detours. Most detours are aggravating, but manageable if we take a breath. I admit that I like to be in control, but I am beginning to realize that I can’t control everything. I’m learning that if we hold on tight enough while those winds of change are blowing, more often than not; we’ll end up where we need to be. As Alan Watts said, we should join the in the dance. After all, the hurricane force winds of change thirty years ago brought me home. By the way, I am writing this six days after Labor Day and wearing white pants. And guess what? I am just fine, y’all.