One of my favorite educational consultants, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, snorts, “Change? Nobody likes change! Change is bad! Growth, on the other hand…”
I don’t like change myself. I am suspicious of it, especially change instigated by other people. Part of that is my innate green-ness: can they possibly have given this change the thought that I would have given it in order to make sure that the consequences are not unduly horrible? Years of experience have confirmed my suspicions, generally.
I suppose, too, that my dislike of change is largely responsible for my having decided years ago that a career in education, completely in my hometown, was a better option for me than pursuing a career in theatre in New York or that other coast. I was always envious of guys like Wayne and David and Helen and Paul (and Mike and Bailee!) who just headed out and worked job to job, from city to city and apartment to apartment, and who along the way built careers of one kind or another. Envious, but not enough to follow their example.
Even now, eligible for retirement, knowing that I could probably make a lot more money as an educational consultant, I shove that idea to the back of my mind. My entrepreneurial spirit barely registers on those aptitude tests, because my tolerance of risk and change is minimal. Trying to track down people to hire me, staying on the road half the time, constantly having to assess my status and the status of those for whom I’m working: too much change. My stomach rebels at the very thought.
It is ironic then that I have so often been an agent of change. At school, at GHP, at the theatre, in Masterworks, I push(ed) constantly for a re-examination of what we do and whether making a change might be beneficial. Doing the same thing over and over, resisting change for no good reason, drives me as insane as change itself. I suppose that this is what Heidi would call growth, and I’m OK with that.
Resistant to change as I am, it’s important to ask the question: Have I changed? Absolutely. I’m sure everyone in my life would tell you I’ve gotten “nicer” as I’ve gotten older. I think they mean that I’m more tolerant of other’s foibles. I’m not sure that’s true, but I have gotten more interested in finding explanations for the idiocies of others. I still think they’re idiots, though.
I’m not as single-minded about most things in my life as I used to be, and I even am able to let go of personal disappointments in what I hope is a healthy way. (A common myth in my family is that I always get my way; it might be truer to say that they don’t realize when I don’t get my way because I don’t mention it.)
I don’t think I’m as disciplined as I used to be, which may be the same thing as the previous paragraph. I find that I mostly require a deadline to be extremely productive, which is one reason I’ve ginned up this series of meditations. My failure to work on any real music since April 23 is another example of this difference in my life. Change, but definitely not growth.
A change I’m hoping to make in my life is the ability to examine it more thoroughly, another reason for this series of essays. Of course, a blog is not the place to do a lot of airing of dirty laundry, so I’m not sure how effective I’ll be in making this change in myself, but as I scan through the topics in the book, I can see some that will require me to do some deep thinking before writing about them. Forced change. It will do me good.
I think one thing about the word change that leaves me wondering about myself is that I don’t really see myself as fundamentally changed since I became an adult. I’ve learned more stuff, naturally, and my understanding, and perhaps tolerance, of the world has broadened, but then I was never very narrow in my judgments anyway.
I do change my hair. I got tattoos. I just got my ear pierced. Those are changes, but external. Internally, I think I’m the basically the same, just bold enough to get my ear pierced.
4 thoughts on “Meditation: Change”
Maybe we can only truly change in the eyes of others. And if that is the case, what credence do we grant to their observations?
If I note someone has changed, it means there is a change in how their presence stimulates me. And that then is an intimacy I have to decide if I wish to share.
I agree that this is a fun notion to unpack.
It seemed you were mixing the notions of self-change and change-agent (other-change) a bit in here. For me, its infinitely easier (i.e. less impact to ego) to get others to move than it is to truly move me.
I also wonder if maybe you are underestimating your change potential? I think that when we look at ourselves as a “whole”, we think we aren’t changing many things. I propose that our potential for change is mitigated by focus. IOW, we can either be radical changers in an area of narrow focus, or we can be slight change agents in a broad sense. Most of us prefer the rewards of narrow focus.
Perceiving inner change has to be a matter of comparing a Now with a Then. You are setting an incomplete map of a present moment beside a memory of questionable reliability. It is about focus, and about what is in view, its clarity, its understandability, and the unknown beyond the frame of the lens.