Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saying goodbye to comfort

For years, my co-worker Mary and I have gone to the same Chinese buffet every Thursday for our weekly lunch meeting. One day, another co-worker teased us about being in a rut. When we came back at him with the fact that he has lunch every Monday at Subway, he said, "Oh, that's not a rut, its a tradition."

I think traditions are important for all of us as human beings. And for me, there are certain things (like where I go for lunch) that are much more easily decided by being in a rut than they are by having to devote alot of time and attention to them on a regular basis.

On the other hand, those I work with also tend to refer to me as a "change junkie." I've often thought that my addiction to change is a result of the fact that from birth to my 30's I moved across this country 8 times and overseas twice. Its kind of hard to get in much of a rut when you're constantly facing the challenge of "starting over." So, being in a leadership position at work, I've had to learn to be more sensitive to people for whom the kind of change I've grown accustomed causes a tremendous amount of stress. And there are times I'm envious of those who, when they go home to visit their parents, sleep in the same room they grew up in. There is certainly a place for constancy as well as for change.

But I would guess that most of us blog and engage in activism because we feel strongly about the need for change in our politics and culture. The ruts we find ourselves in are unbearable and unsustainable. And for some of us, Gandhi's words "be the change you want to see" are the cornerstone of how to make that happen. But the challenge of when to hold on to someone/something and when to let go is difficult and is often impacted by our discomfort with change.

What is it that makes change so difficult?

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another.

Anatole France

Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you'll be forever in the control of things you can't give up.

Andy Law

For me, change means that you have to be willing to embrace the grief process of letting go of the people/beliefs/things of the present. We usually don't do that unless the present has become so unbearable that we're willing to live with the grief of saying goodbye. It also means being willing to risk the fact that the change we move towards might turn out to be better, worse, or more of the same. Most of the time we really have little information on what the outcome of change will be.

All of this makes staying in the same place a whole lot easier than changing - until that place becomes more uncomfortable than the process of change. The uncomfortability of our current situation is certainly motivating more folks to be ready to step out of their ruts and prepare for change. As that happens, I think we can expect alot of uncertainty in the air and alot of grief over the goodbyes that will need to be said.


If you knew that you would die today
If you saw the face of God and Love
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you knew that love can break your heart
When you're down so low you cannot fall
Would you change?
Would you change?

How bad how good does it need to get?
How many losses how much regret?
What chain reaction
What cause and effect
Makes you turn around
Makes you try to explain
Makes you forgive and forget
Makes you change
Makes you change

If you knew that you would be alone
Knowing right being wrong
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you knew that you would find a truth
That brings a pain that can't be soothed
Would you change?
Would you change?

Are you so upright you can't be bent
if it comes to blows
Are you so sure you won't be crawling
If not for the good why risk falling
Why risk falling

If everything you think you know
Makes your life unbearable
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you'd broken every rule and vow
And hard times come to bring you down
Would you change?
Would you change?

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