Lots of things are in transition in my life right now – job, house, mindset, diet – and I love it. I may be one of the few people in the world that really likes change; changes give me the chance to discard old things (like those boxes of school papers still sitting at my parents’ house because I think I might “need” them some day) and take on new ones as I journey down this road of life. I’m not a fan of the stagnant or the static. Perhaps that’s why I teach: new students every term. I prefer streams to lakes; I prefer wind to stillness; I prefer breathing to not (obviously). So in honor of transition and change, here are a few good transitional things. Feel free to share your own.
1. The change of seasons. When I lived in San Francisco, I loved the city – the arts, the food, the transportation, the food, the water, did I mention the food – but I don’t think I could ever live there for long again for the simple reason that there isn’t much of a seasonal change. Now natives will tell you there’s a marked difference between summer (which comes in October) and winter, and to them, there is probably a big difference. But to me, a girl who craves feet of snow come January, the difference between 50 and 70 is not drastic enough for me.
2. Labyrinths. I love these mystical paths that circle back on themselves but always bring about change in the people who walk them. There’s just something about slowing down to walk a set path that calms the spirit and gives space for real introspection. My friend Dorit Brauer does beautiful things with labyrinths; she even took a road trip to visit them around the world.
– Labyrinth by Dorit Brauer
3. Water. At the back of my house here in Maryland, there’s a stream, a creek they call it on the roadsigns, and when it rains or the snow melts, this stream pours through it’s little canyon with force that belies it’s little size. Water never stays the same; even when I drink it, it becomes something else as soon as it enters my body. The ocean changes every second. Rain never falls in the same way. Water is not immutable, and I love it for that.
4. Risk Taking. This morning I was reading from Writers on Writing, and Richard Stern has this to say in his essay “Autumnal Accounting Endangers Happiness”:
Writers, far more commonly than nonwriters, not only organize what happens to them into stories but throughout their writing lives seek out sometimes perilous experience that may make good ones. Like Mailer they enlist in the wartime infantry, or like Hemingway take risks in jungles or bullfight rings, not only to test themselves but to observe their feelings and reactions as they’re being tested. Not a few have serial affairs or marriages.
Even cautious writers like me find ourselves risking not only our own happiness but that of those we love. I will not degrade this risk taking by saying that it serves our ambitions or careers. It is, I believe, the closest things some of us have to vocation, an almost irrational commitment to the accurate, powerful depiction of what we’ve felt, seen, believed, conceived and imagined. That the vocational call is almost surely a domestic rather than a long-distance one doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that the one called is also the caller.
5. Words. They change depending on who says them, who hears them, what the tone of them is. They morph based on context or in relationship to the words around them. They change over time (See the OED). They twist and spin and elude us when we need them. They are transitions themselves – beautiful glittery things that most of the time slip through our fingers.
In what ways can you celebrate change? Or not celebrate it? Where are your transitional points and the things that make those changes easier?
For me, change is life. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t, but most of the time it is. And most days, I would prefer that to the same thing every day. . . Immutability is overrated.