21 Mar 2011

Change: Brace or Embrace?


February has changed into March.  The tiny tight bud changes to sweet breathe-easy blossom just as wrapped-up Winter changes to open-arms Spring. Change is inevitable. Change can be deeply shocking and devastating as we have seen this month in Japan. This certainly puts smaller changes into perspective. But those small-scale subtle changes still exist, from changing your clothes to change in your pocket. This post is an exploratory creatory meander into what change might be, asking how do we view it, approach it, embrace it or brace for it?

At a local cafe
Having asked lots of people, grown-up and small ones, some I know, some I don’t, I’m offering here a scrap-book-blog of thoughts and creative words and some interesting links. Feel free to add in your own via eblogger.

Paragraph change. Ooh, no, let’s have a font change! A dear friend, Caitie, wrote to me about changes and movements within her life, she also wrote of the changing of the seasons in her home state of Michigan:

Do you know what a chinook is? --- the warming winds that can melt snow rapidly and drastically raise cold wintry temperatures? -- well. We're having that today. (Have you seen the movie Chocolat? mm. I love it! -- you know when a certain wind came, the mother always knew it was time for a change) ---The chinook is a blowing and it's feeling true. Time for change. Sometimes February and March are kind of harsh. Blowing and pounding and snapping and cracking and pushing away anything that is weak or dead. Yes it's harsh. But then I remember it's to make room for what wants to live. and it needs to make room for April. ... for "La Primavera..." (the first green) ah si?

Which inspired me to doodle down this poem:


The Mitten State
its mission statement
blow brittle winds
knowing best
branches bend in recognition
they break their bones
ready for the reincarnation
particles that once were other
always all
all Om
now heed the winds of change.
Us, heads bowed
bustling through
busily avoiding winter
we’d break our bones to cheat
clinging to trees as the wind shoulders past
picking up existence as it goes
because the first green is coming!
Make way! Make way!
she sashays in
petals rustle as we breathe her in
she promises so much
her warmth and smile
beguiling us.

And just as we experience weather in the world, we can also experience weather in the heart. When change is mentioned, the emotions can really come into play depending on how much we’re attached to life as it is or our vision of how we think it should be. In yogic terms, these attachments or aversions are called Kleshas and it is through the Kleshas that we arguably, ultimately create our own suffering. We may either yearn for change or see it as something to fear, our attachment or aversion to change can dictate our reaction to it. I read an interesting article on change, from a yogic perspective in Yoga Journal (http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/1769) Another friend, Tim, described change in a very visual way: change as the undercurrent of the sea, ever present, something we can either swim against or choose to accept and enjoying swimming in and with.

One reason I’ve been pondering change is because my partner is overseas and will be for a fair wedge of time yet. My heart does not think this is much fun. Even though my heart has been informed about the Kleshas. So here’s a poem about change and a moment.

In between

I changed the lightbulb today
in our room
the dimmer switch did not concur.
The light
I turn it up
its wattage highlighting
your absence from
our bed.
I know. I know,
you are not far.
I know.
I wear
your pyjama bottoms
not your top
so it still smells of you

75 watt bulb
dressed in black
their silhouettes
may be similar
but they are not the same.

You awake at first light
while night falls here

And in the flicker

in between
we meet.   


The winds of change. Time for change. A change is as good as a rest.
So they say. It would seem to serve us well to accept change exactly because we can’t stop it. A young boy and also a grown-up, Melena, both told me that it is best to adapt to change. That is, after all, evolution. Change happens, we change, we grow, inside and out, we evolve. Or is there an alternative? What is the opposite of change? The Same? The thesaurus tells me changes antonyms are to: hold, keep, remain, stay, constancy, invariability, monotony, permanence, stability, uniformity.

Stability brings me to another connection that, as synchronicity would have it, came to my attention from three separate sources, a Yogic text, a book on personal development and the website of writer-psychologist Christopher Coulson: thegiftedway.com. Christopher’s blog, most recently, seems to explore how he navigates a different emotional terrain as he adjusts to the huge change of moving from Tulsa, Oklahoma, back to Bournemouth, UK. Both Christopher and the other two texts mention Maslow’s Pyramid. This pyramid suggests that a person’s basic needs must be met before one can focus any energy (or is that be open to allowing the flow of energy?) that enables one to live in a self-actualized way. The real stability is within, but in order to nurture inner stability, it seems it is vital to cover the basics of external stability, food, shelter and so on. I really enjoyed Christopher’s blog, so I urge you to take a peek and ponder onwards.

A group of primary school children I have been working with generally had mixed feelings about change, perhaps because stability is more important to them at a young age, or perhaps, they were being more open about fear of change than most adults are. But, when asked to imagine a world without change, the children grew contemplative. A world without change, for most, was not an inviting prospect. If we look at the antonyms for change, we can see a possible pattern: stability morphs into invariability which gives way to monotony. And so lack of change can result in a stagnant state. And so, perhaps, not only is change inevitable, but it is also necessary:

Some striking, rhythmic lines come to mind, from a poem written and performed by Julie Cartwright and Bryan Thomas of Vita Nova writing group; it is well worth catching at one of their new writing scratch nights in Bournemouth (www.vitanova.co.uk):

If nothing change, then nothing changes,
Everything stays the same,
If nothing change, then nothing changes,
Everything, everything stays the same.


And it is so true. If nothing change, then nothing changes. I met a young man on the beach today, he spoke of change as inevitable and, if we don’t engage in it and hold a positive vision of change in our lives, we can slip into negativity, into being ‘stuck’ and feeling powerless amidst change. Or perhaps it is just the way we’re looking at it. How liberating when an internal shift creates a change in perception or approach that allows one to see the same situation with new eyes and, from that more easeful, comfortable state of acceptance, change often naturally begins to flow.

Today the sky was blue and without clouds all day. I noticed more people out and about in more daring less-layers ensembles, more runners by the sea, more flowers on bushes and grasses and more smiles on faces. More openness. It really is as if everyone was opening anew under the sun. Emerging from their own personal winters into spring.

To keep that inner blossoming alive in me, I write, I engage in little creative projects which connect me connected to my source, inner self and others, either online or in person. It might be insightful or just plain joyful for you to do the same. Do you know how our loved ones feel about change? How about strangers? Maybe your words and interest will act as sunlight and encourage a blooming in their chest too. And a big thank you to all those who kindly shared their thoughts on change with me (and now others too!), your words and engagement: rays of light.  And, for your collective eyeballing pleasure, I’ve asked my neighbour if I can photograph the changing bulbs on display in her garden. So I’ll happily share their growth this month - such a soothing activity, simple, creative, pleasurable and it reassures my heart and head that time passes. ‘Time passes no matter what we think of it’ a wise friend once said. And so, too, change comes.

Day One of Street Springwatch!
Dusky Yellow
Out She Peeps
Night Growing
Yawning Yellow
More Friends
Calling More Friends

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