Some change is gradual and relatively easy to wrap your head around. You scroll through the photos on your phone, flick through an old, handwritten diary, or get a text from a former friend, and you just know that things are no longer the same. You might feel nostalgic, but when it comes down to it, you’re glad life has moved on.
Other changes whip your head around with sheer force, and you have no idea how this really happened or how much it wil affect everything. It’s a slap in the face, sharp and humbling, or a dull punch strong enought to bruise, rainbow colours blossoming on your skin for weeks. It’s the kind of change that hurts.
Of course it hurts when buds burst,
pain for that which grows
and that which envelops.
When you’re young, it seems like all change happens because of somebody else: parents and guardians, teachers, even older friends, and that just sucks. As a teenager, things get even more out of hand, as your body and mind does strange and often embarrassing things. Around twenty, change is scary because now you’re in charge, and you’ll often have to cause changes yourself (which is much more complicated than you thought as a kid). Approaching thirty, I’m daunted by changes because they seem so permanent; any little step can change my course dramatically in the long run.
This is also the age where mortality and the briefness of life hits closer to home. Getting older simply raises the stakes. Maybe your parents grow ill, or even die, or you start to notice yourself how a body won’t be young and healthy forever. Maybe you have a child, which clearly shows you how things previously considered normal, are now accidents waiting to happen (especially if you, the parent, can’t make perfect choices).
I’m still relatively young, but I can easily imagine how forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, provide new angles to the concept of change. Well, I say concept, but it’s much more personal than the word implies, isn’t it? I don’t think I know anyone who genuinely love change, at least not the kind they haven’t initiated themselves. And that’s the really interesting bit, because as much as we complain over even small interruptions to our everyday routine, we also crave change. A new haircut. A new place to live. New ideas on what to cook for dinner. A new lover, or partner. New ways to think.
Hard to be uncertain, afraid and divided,
hard to feel the deep pulling and calling,
yet sit there and just quiver —
hard to want to stay
and to want to fall.
Most of my life, I’ve approached change similarly to a stubborn donkey digging its heels in (yes, feel free to picture that). Like most people, I suppose, I just didn’t like how vulnerable it left me. Improvisation was my most dreaded class when I studied music, precisely for that reason: it was exposing enough to sing my heart out in front of people, and to do it without a plan was just too much.
As some of you know, I struggled with depression for a long time. Since last autumn, I’ve finally, finally, managed to free myself from that (with some excellent help, both professional and otherwise). With that freedom came an unexpected change towards… well, change. Now, I kind of like the challenge of it. Not when it comes to musical improvisation, mind you — I’m still a donkey in that regard. But those weird spins and shuffles the world guides me through, they keep me on my toes. Keep things interesting. Not only is change itself unavoidable, but it teaches me valuable things about the world and myself. It also makes me feel strong, when I’m in a new, confusing setting and still manage to keep my chin up in a bring-it-on manner.
When it comes down to it, I think that’s such a lovely, encouraging thing to remember. Sure, we can have a particular, pretty stubborn attitude towards change. But that, too, will change.