A change is coming.
I don’t know when or what it will usher in, but lately life seems bent on shaking me from the familiar.
Of course, change is inevitable; we face it daily from the moment we awake, with the hours before us bearing both the comfort of routine and the haze of the unknown and every moment in some way different from the one that came before. But once in a while, a gust blows in, rattling the confines of what we know and forcing us to pay greater attention to the details of our lives rather than drift in our usual complacency.
We may feel unfairly targeted or overwhelmed by this sudden shift in circumstances. We may look for reasons why or perhaps someone to blame, assume the posture of victim or cower in determined oblivion to the looming detours ahead.
But what if instead of resistance and dread, we anticipated change with a gentle curiosity, trusting that whatever to come is ultimately for our good, even if we are not able to immediately recognize such grace?
No easy feat, I know. As I’ve been buffeted by one deflating turn of events after another in the last few weeks, from a health scare to startling work developments to increasingly worrisome news about my father’s deteriorating mental and physical condition, there’s been many a moment when I’ve been tempted to dive under the covers and draw the shades, tuning out a world intent on delivering bad news.
This “landslide of yuck,” as one friend put it, has disrupted a mainly sunny forecast of chasing simple summer joys amid life’s usual activity. And for someone like me, who tends toward ebullience, the fatigue and sense of fragility I’ve felt trying to bear up under such a weight has made me distinctly uncomfortable.
That discomfort, if I’m willing to acknowledge and sit with it, is what tells me change is on the horizon. For it has been my experience that I can only operate at the level of comfort and ease for so long before life decides I’m ready to learn another lesson, take on a new opportunity, realize a strength or gift I wasn’t aware I possessed.
I can worry and fret and conjure all manner of scenarios waiting to deliver me to such transformation. But I’ve also learned such energy is better channeled into remaining attentive to those disquieting signals and looking for the positive steps I can take now that might ease whatever uncertainty lies ahead. Sometimes the best way to meet anticipated change is with change itself.
We all have those habits we know we need to break, the patterns that repeatedly ensnare us, the dreams we long to embrace, the decisions we constantly defer. Yet, sometimes, if we don’t proactively tend to them, the universe forces our hand, ratcheting up our pain and fitfulness until we’re impelled to action — and the results aren’t always pretty.
Years ago, I was enmeshed in two relationships I knew were no longer serving me — one with a woman who was my best friend, the other with a man I believed to be my greatest love.
Things were not working with either of them. I’d known her since high school when our guidance counselor threw us together after she moved from Jamaica to the U.S. in 11th grade. Having become more like sisters than friends, we even roomed with each other in college. But in the years after graduation, the dynamics of our friendship began to shift, at first subtly and then more definitively as her tendency toward arrogance and superiority, as well as a flair for drama, emerged — and I struggled to reconcile my growing irritation and disenchantment with my conflict-shy complaisance.
I never questioned or challenged her but took to airing my grievances to my mom or other friends and then ultimately to the man who would betray me. He and I had been negotiating a snarled, heart-bruising, intoxicating relationship for years. From our first break-up to subsequent make-up and every reunion and separation in between, I knew severing all ties would be the only thing to save us from such an exhausting merry-go-round. But our love was as reckless as it was heady and neither of us realized we were bound more by our individual woundedness than the depth of feeling we believed we’d never know with anyone else.
And then he cheated on me with her — and suddenly I was forced to acknowledge the truth of those relationships and all the ways I’d been trying to make them something they were not. Perhaps if I had seized the courage early on to make a clean break from him and to confess my unhappiness to her, the damage could have been avoided. But despite the barrage of signals trying to steer me toward a change — from bouts of anxiety to my gravitation to friendships I proclaimed to be “easy” compared to the morass I found myself in with my best friend — I chose to ignore how uncomfortable I felt until I was pushed, by circumstances, to confront what I’d been avoiding.
Today, I can look back on that experience and honestly attest to the many gifts it proffered. It was my first significant step in awakening to the woman I am now and creating a life more fulfilling than anything I could have envisioned at the time. The excruciating pain of that betrayal propelled my spiritual and emotional growth and set me on a journey to reclaim and redefine myself. Sitting with my brokenness, which I learned had roots not in so much fresh devastation but in the tumult and eventual demise of my parents’ marriage, I saw, too, my possibilities. Even as I floundered through those first difficult months of digesting what had transpired, also examining how I’d contributed to this breach of trust, I knew I was being pruned for something better.
My decision to become a wedding officiant and then an interfaith minister, my inspiring solo adventures to places like Peru and Mallorca, the relationships that have since taught me the real meaning of friendship and even my partnership with Zane — from whom I once separated with a clarity and resolve that were sure signs of just how much I’d grown — all sprouted from seeds planted in that period of soul-shattering change. But it was my willingness to meet the change head-on and my faith in its purpose that ultimately brought them to fruition.
I don’t think what life has in store for me this time around is anything as staggering. But I do know, with all the inquietude of late, that something is being asked of me. Change will come, whether I want it to or not. I, of course, prefer to have a choice but for now all I can do is remain vigilant and look for the clues, internal and external, that may guide me, better prepared, to its precipice — and then leap when the moment arrives, trusting in a plan whose perfection I can’t yet see.
– Life in LaLa Land, published in The Intelligencer and Bucks County Courier Times