Monday, May 02, 2011

The Devil You Know

change | ch ānj|, verb: make or become different

Heraclitus (remember him? Okay, I admit, I had to look him up on Google) said it first: "Nothing endures but change." It's one of those little bits of indisputable truth ingrained in us since childhood. Change is inevitable and inescapable on all levels of existence. We have little control over most of the changes--cosmic, global, historical, social, societal--which affect our lives, but when it comes to those over which we do have some degree of personal control (primarily, making the decision whether to change or not), I've always leaned toward the old Irish proverb, "Better the devil you know." The implication in that statement is, rightly, that not all change is necessarily for the good, and it might be better not to risk it.

Of course, the worse a situation, the more unhappy one is with the status quo, the more welcome the idea of change becomes. But when things are going relatively smoothly, the contemplation of change can become downright frightening. The automatic reaction tends to be, in short, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Implicit in the very definition of the word "change" is the fact that things will no longer be as they were. For a great many people, the concept of change is frightening; keeping things as they have always been is comforting. I must admit I can easily understand and empathize with this view. Yet no change also means no progress, no growth, no challenges.

For a great many people, me included, change is strongly associated with endings and is resisted in an attempt to forestall those endings. To throw out a battered old chair upon which long-gone friends and loved ones have sat is not merely to change a piece of furniture, it is to sever a tangible link to those people who were so important a part of one's life. Is it logical? No. It is human.

Ever since my return from Europe, I've been aware that something pretty elemental within myself is in the process of change. I find that the fact I'm aware that it is completely out of my control to be more than a little disturbing, and I really don't know if I'm prepared for it, or if I will be happy with whatever the results of the change may be. I realize that the fulcrum for this change was the trip itself, and, as writer Miriam Beard observed, "Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." And that this trip was so heavily tied to memories and the achievement of goals of more than half a century all but guaranteed that the change would be profound.

I've indicated an awareness of this change in one or two blogs since my return. I am definitely conscious of the fact that my priorities seem to have undergone a major alteration. I find myself with a much more casual attitude toward what must be done when. If I don't accomplish something within the timeframe I'd set up for it I'm frankly shocked to realize I don't care! I know, for example, that I need to get this blog finished so that I can put it up tomorrow. But if I don't...well, I've been thinking of dropping back from three blogs a week to really doesn't matter.

And it disturbs me greatly that I can even say such a thing. I feel an obligation--whether justified or not--to those who have been kind enough to read my blogs on a regular basis and who have come to expect them three times a week, though I suspect it's pretty arrogantly egocentric of me to believe that.

Perhaps I am merely going through a temporary adjustment period while attempting to get back into familiar routines, and that I will once again adopt those things I fear I have lost through change. But somehow I doubt it. Only time can and will tell.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central Time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

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