Change isn’t easy for me. Sure, I understand that change is inevitable, the only constant in life and impossible to stop but still, change is hard. Recently a friend gave me a flat screen monitor of which her mom no longer used. Well, she actually gave it to me over a month ago but as she lives in Calgary, it took a circuitous route to West Van, via Victoria, Salts Spring Island and finally, Anam Cara Farm and Learning Centre in Abbotsford. I picked it up a few days ago, carefully wrapped in layers of cotton within a bright blue IKEA carrying bag. It then sat in my hallway like a tacky beacon calling out to be opened. I am sure it would have sat there for at least a week, possibly more, but my Calgary friend asked how I liked it. Shame, not industriousness, propelled me to work. This morning I took it out of its bag, unwrapped its shawl and plugged it in. It’s beautiful. So, why did it take so long? Good old fashioned fear of change.
There are many facets to my fear and several applied to this situation. I was scared I would be disappointed or worse, find that when I unplugged my old one, with the interesting brown lines across it, I would have nothing. That either the new one wouldn’t work or that in somehow rearranging the wiring I would screw the whole thing up; that it would be too large for my desk or too modern for my outdated tower. I knew that in opening the bag there was no going back: fate would be sealed, it was do or die.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic but it is true I don’t like change and fear fuels that dislike. In many ways it’s about staying with the devil you know, at least its familiar. In familiarity there is safety and a practical knowledge that at best you have tools to work through what would give another person grief. The problem with this, of course, is that without conscious change we stagnate, lose interest in life; get caught in a rut. Life without change is none other than death.
I am currently working on a mosaic made of haphazardly cut tile. It is an image of a tree with a multitude of colours illuminating the roots, the branches, the earth and the sky. I am quite proud of it but alas, it too stood in a stage of stagnation before I finally started gluing it to its final home—an 18” diameter piece of wood. I really didn’t get what was holding me back until I sat in meditation one day. Yes, you guessed it: change. A part of me knew my mosaic wouldn’t stay the same as I transferred my pieces from sketch paper to its final home. A part of me feared it would be ruined, my perfect picture would distort: I would not recover those oh-so-perfect curves and just right angles. The finished product would hide in the closet to dispose of some inglorious day in the dumpster.
I came out of the meditation, however, with none of this in mind. In fact, I went in with another seemingly unrelated question but came out with a compulsive need to start gluing. So glue I did. And, of course, the image changed, and does so every day I work on it. And that, I am realizing, is not only okay but quite exciting.
It’s a lesson I seem to need to keep relearing: that whatever the problem, small or large, it is not so much about how I control the issue but how much I trust in the transformative process.