In his song “Changes,” David Bowie says, “Time may change me/But I can’t trace time.”
Things change. I mean, that’s a given. Nothing ever really stays the same. So why people are always so surprised when things change is beyond me. I guess it’s because we are creatures of habit and we fall into a steady a routine, and we get upset when things change.
We’re like cats that way. Cats are very much creatures of habit. They like things to be the same way all the time. They like their litter boxes and food bowls in the same place, they like the furniture to stay where it is until the end of time, and they don’t like a whole lot of people coming and going.
The difference between people and cats, however, is that humans have conscious awareness. We know about life and death, what causes pain and joy, and that things change. Still, we are often unprepared for change. Sometimes we’re happy with change, but we don’t always see happy turn of events as changes, just good things that happen to us: getting married, getting the job we wanted, having children, moving into a nice home, etc.
Someone has died and “things will never be the same again.”
A company has been bought out by a larger company and “things have gone downhill at work.”
A relationship has soured and one person claims that the other “changed” or that she “doesn’t know her anymore.”
Everything changes. Constantly. We just don’t always notice it. Sometimes things change slowly over a period of time. Sometimes it’s overnight. And as creatures of habit, it’s those overnight changes that throw us for a loop. We’re simply not ready for them. Or don’t know what to make of them. They can disorient us or immobilize us, preventing us from making critical decisions and moving on.
But what is it about some changes that disappoint us? Is it the circumstances, or the people involved? Sometimes we see negative changes are our own failures, and that’s a whole other bag of nuts to crack. These are complicated questions—or, sometimes not—but it’s what we all have to deal with because, well, that’s life.
It’s all a matter of how you handle those changes. Cock-eyed optimists might throw an old saying out at you, such as when you’re given lemons, make lemonade. But I think a more realistic, and less Mary-Sunshine, way of putting it is to take a more Buddhist approach and say, this, too, is a part of life and I accept it because there is no other option (unless you count being swept away by fear and anger an option). What can I do to turn this into something beneficial?
I’m saying all this because I’ve had to accept some things lately that I have no control over. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, some of those things have to do with my writing. Some things are of a more personal nature, but everything ties together in the end anyway.
The trick is to make change work for you. Change may seem strange to us at first, and like cats, it may even throw our whole world upside down. But as Bowie advised, we need to just turn and face the strange. It’s not always easy, but it’s the only way to live.