This is the time of year when we all want to start over, to make things better, to move forward into a brighter future.
Perfectly understandable. As humans, we have the intelligence and forethought to choose goals and work toward them.
But I think for most of us, myself included, our underlying desire is to create a positive, permanent state that will eliminate discomfort and uncertainty forever. We want our lives to be perfect, and then to stay that way. We want to solve our problems once and for all.
Also perfectly understandable. But not the way life works. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, change is the only constant. So as we resolve to attempt some big changes in our lives, perhaps one of our goals could be to make friends with change itself, to acknowledge whatever the tides bring and to figure out how to take full advantage of it, even if it seems “bad.”
Pema Chodron, in her book When Things Fall Apart, talks about this approach to life’s uncertainties:
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.
So let’s make goals, envision a better future, and move bravely in that direction. But as we go, let’s know that curve balls happen, winds shift, the tide will come in and go out. Let’s be ready for whatever the future brings, open to its gifts and its challenges. Let’s breathe through change, that dear friend who is always present.