I am in the middle of some major life transitions, changes that are welcome yet challenging at the same time.
I am moving the office for my part-time job to a location 10 minutes from my home. This job actually began in a way similar to this: almost 20 years ago I moved the office from the Indianapolis, Indiana area to a location within walking distance from my my home in Red Bank, Tennessee. But not long after that the business was moved to Atlanta, Georgia and I began a commute which could take anywhere from 35 to 75 minutes (and you never knew which it would be).
Less driving in the “big city” traffic will be a welcome change.
But the process of culling through decades of materials and shredding the chaff, moving furniture to the middle of the room to prepare for wall painting, enduring paint fumes and paint dust, working in a space that even a mouse would find confining, and not knowing where anything is anymore – these I could do without! All this while trying to stay abreast of new leads, and keep the normal business going.
Such is change, I suppose. It is both a welcome guest and an impertinent intruder.
My wife is in transition, too. The bookstore where she has worked part-time for 6 and 1/2 years is closing its doors in late April. In some ways it will be a relief for her, but in other ways a sad goodbye to a place (and a group of people) where she has contributed her heart. Social security will kick in to keep us off the streets (hopefully). And I told her that now she can say to people, “I am on a fixed income.”
My youngest daughter is being forced to change jobs at the end of this week; the company where she has worked these past few years is now not able to pay her for the excellent work she does, and she begins a new job on Monday. A hard transition for her, but it is fortunate she has something else to go to, I suppose. The pain for her is great. Nevertheless . . . here she goes.
Spring is upon us, and the last surprise snow storm and snap of cold weather may be about to be history. Flowers are raising their pretty little heads, and soon the sound of mowers and blowers will be heard on a regular basis again. The HVAC man was here to check our AC system today; all is in order for the warm months ahead.
The stuff of life. Right?
Seasons in the weather. Seasons in our lives. We must let go of the past in order to embrace the future. Or as my friend PK puts it: “You take all the emotion and intensity of the loss and face it. And then you go get a new dream based on the new reality.” (Home Run, by Kevin Myers and John C. Maxwell, p. 185 – published in 2014 by FaithWords).
We are all obsessed with how it’s going to look, aren’t we? Our future, that is. What’s it going to look like? Will I be OK with it? Will everything be all right? Will I be happy?
In my life there have been many changes: moves across the country (several times), job changes, career changes, different standards of living, friendships lost, and different friendships created. But in each new setting I can honestly say the rewards have far outweighed the costs.
Recently I gave notice that I was not returning to one of my part-time jobs, one I have held for the past 11 years, and one in which I have delighted. The timing just . . . seemed right. One could make the case that I was giving up a “sure thing,” passing up an opportunity that was open to me, one that had stood the test of time. And yes, I had those discussions in my heart of hearts, and in my head. But still, it seemed right to make a move. I followed my heart.
I am reminded of the old Randy Travis song where total abandon and heartfelt venturing push us to have “no doubts” and “no fears,” then lead up to the exclamation we make to our souls:
“Look, heart! No hands.”
Riding a bike (as in the song) . . . and living a life . . . are not so very different. Of course, Mr. Travis is singing about love and interdependence. But he hearkens back to our memories of youth, because he knows we all – at one time or another – tried on the mantle of abandon. Or . . . at least we dreamed of wearing it.
In adulthood we long to be settled; we strive to find stability, predictability, emotional equilibrium. Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with the oft quoted line,
“only insofar as we are unsettled is there any hope for us.”
We try to construct a house of cards all around us. Then a gust of wind blows them down. Or we build ourselves a tower out of matchsticks, only to watch them tumble to the floor. It matters not what great care we took to construct our chosen edifice; eventually it will come down. For change . . . is what is constant, is what is lasting, is . . . what we can expect.
And so we move.
Sometimes we have to “have a funeral and get a new dream” (John C. Maxwell, p. 184 of Home Run,referenced above). Of course, that is usually when things don’t go as we’ve planned. The truth is, even when they do go as we’ve planned, we must make changes. It is part and parcel of life.
The key is not to focus on the changes all around us; rather, to foster a stability inside us that can ebb and flow with whatever external transitions may come. We become adaptable, flexible, adjustable, versatile. We learn to “walk with kings,” but not “lose the common touch” (to quote Rudyard Kipling’s, If, one of my father’s favorite poems).
You see – we will be OK. That’s the truth of the matter.
In fact . . . we will be better for it.
And eventually, as we learn how to let go of things, embrace change . . . and move . . . we may one day find ourselves speeding downhill with our hair blowing in the wind. Living without regret, without apology.
Enjoying the ride. Hands held high in the breeze.
And we may form the words with our mouth: