“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
I remembered this quote from the 1998 Brad Pitt film, Meet Joe Black. Usually, it is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, who included the phrase in a letter about the newly established American Constitution in 1789. In today's world, even these two supposedly ‘certain’ aspects of life, death and taxes, can be viewed from rather more changeable perspectives; where taxes have been rephrased as ‘creative accounting’, while beliefs about death dwell far beyond the literal, physical, and material plane.
Contrarily, however, CHANGE is the ultimate constant of life.
Transition and change are occurring in our environment, in our cities and communities, in our families and individual activities, at every single moment. While our accountants and lawyers are able to conjure up a plethora of clever schemes to avoid paying taxes, death is, in fact, an inherent and real part of our every day experience. As we go to sleep each night, when the conscious becomes the unconscious, it is like we are dying to the day that has been. We sleep to regenerate anew our bodies and minds to the day that awaits the sunrise.
Only humans (as far as I am aware) have the capacity to individually and collectively delude themselves into believing they can ‘manage’ change, to somehow attempt to force control upon a process which is integral and intimate to all life on the planet. The current, popular models include: Kotter's 8 Steps of Change, The Nudge Theory, Kurt Lewin's Change Model, John Fisher's Change Theory, Prosci's ADKAR Model, and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief. And every new change management consultancy will come up with some variation of the above and claim it as the most successful change process since sliced bread.
We just need to look in Nature, where change is happening continuously throughout the seasons. The seeds sown in the fields that germinate into plants, the plants that grow into food, which is then harvested and transformed into dishes that we can eat to nourish our bodies. And before we excrete the waste we do not need, every mouthful of food has altered the entire balance of vitamins and fat and protein in our body.
We forget that we are part of Nature, because we get sucked into our Ego's reaction to change. In our society, with our First World problems, people have the luxury to formulate neat psychological models and acronyms and diagrams of their experience of change. And while we feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment with this post-mortem analysis and sanitised version of coping with reality, the true sadness lies in how we use the rich and opportune lessons which change presents, to differentiate ourselves from others. We begin to believe that being a ‘career-woman-mother-wife-expat’ is somehow more difficult and more special, than say, a native woman in an African community, who has never been outside of her home village.
Would you contemplate walking 10 km every day just to get water to cook your food? Do you think about the miracle that change enables in Nature when you're arguing with your spouse about moving to a new job, or home, or city?
Change is not a choice. It is inevitable, whether we wish for it or not. As a member of the modern human species, Homo sapiens, we undergo change from the moment we are conceived in our mother's womb. We change from birth and being held and breast-fed, to walking and learning to feed ourselves. We change from toddlers to students to adults. We change through romantic and intimate relationships, as well as through work, family and having our own children. We change from nubile, young flexible bodies, to slowing down, ageing and eventual death. The only true question in the process of change and transition is:
How will I respond (the root of “response-ability”) in relation to the change I am experiencing every day of my life?
For example, do you wake up each morning and notice the small changes in your spouse from the day before? Or pay attention to the taste of the fruit you eat at breakfast, which is different in every mouthful? Or watch how the leaves on the trees change colour ever so slightly day by day in the autumn before they fall and wither?
Owning our responsibility to engage with change is the privilege of being alive! Instead of constantly fighting against Nature, or putting our efforts into ‘fixing’ and ‘controlling’ and ‘managing’ the process of change according to our limited knowledge and understanding, WHY NOT JUST ROLL WITH IT? Create the space… head-space, heart-space, body-space, relationship-space, work-space, quiet-space, reflection-space… to embrace and simply be with your experience, whatever it may be. It's not necessary to try and fit your experience into a psychological model, or any other kind of delusional academic certainty. In fact, accept the un-certainty and express the truth about it from moment to moment, as your experience evolves. And remember, to say that change is ‘difficult’ is a state of mind we experience when we resist the changing face of Nature.
When we view CHANGE as our awareness of the natural process of life, we can rejoice and laugh and cry, together, every day!