Philosopher Heraclitus of Ephoses, (c. 500 BCE) made the assertion that “life is flux” meaning everything or all things change.
When I was growing up, I heard it as “The only thing that is constant is change.” At a young age, I took this as a strange form of comfort because we moved about every four years for my father’s job with 3M; this was how life was supposed to be–always changing. This thought helped me embrace a move with a sense of adventure rather than make myself miserable fighting the inevitable.
This experience has given me the illusion as an adult that I am “good” at change, that I don’t resist it with the monumental effort that I sometimes witness in others. To which those who live with me might argue, “au contraire mon ami” or “the lady doth protest too much, methinks,” if I can use both a French and a Shakespearian quotation in one sentence.
I’m not sure any of us are very good at change. Change necessarily implies loss of the status quo. Our flexibility and openness to all kinds of shifts—in our job, our family, our daily routine, our relationships, our community, our congregation or in society—depends on how deeply invested we are in the way things are right now, and how much we fear an unknown future.
I have learned two good questions to ask myself when I resist change:
- What am I afraid of losing?
- What am I afraid I won’t get?
Thinking, writing or talking through with a trusted friend my response to these questions helps me identify what’s at stake in any given situation. These questions help reveal my highest values and what I need in order to grow through change. Such reflection also gets the creative juices flowing, so I can uncover new ways of getting what I need or want.
We live in a rapidly changing world, and some days it feels like the pace of change is quickening. To a certain extent that’s true. Technologies like computers, biotechnology, and nanotech are self-accelerating—they produce the ability to improve themselves. The current best computer chip is used to develop the next, faster computer chip.
The US population is shifting as well. Futurist Gary Marx identifies these among many other trends: For the next thirty years about 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65. Millennials started turning 30 in 2013, so a new style of leadership and parental expectations are on the rise as retirements increase. By 2018, half of those age 18 and under will be people of color.
Whether all of Gary Marx’s 21st Century Trends will come to pass, I don’t know. But I do know that it’s time to good at change. Now more than ever, I see the practice of being open to change and the attendant reflection on my values, needs and losses, as a necessary spiritual exercise in today’s world. Such a daily practice can only aid my engagement in our Global Knowledge and Information Age, and the future that it’s bringing. Maybe I can even get a new computer without the usual level of stress and meltdowns (but my husband isn’t holding his breath!).
Photo Credit: http://leadinganswers.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/03/15/monarch_stages.jpg
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