The next installment in “Magic in the Mundane” will be posted shortly. Meanwhile, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass.
Ali Hale wrote a piece on The Change Blog recently about the difference between growth and change. Which makes for an interesting discussion of semantic differences, but what it triggered for me was how far things have come in the past several decades.
The coolest thing about change is that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift that makes it possible for significant numbers of people to change. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating.
In the past, change was a matter of “one-offs” – strong individuals who defied conventional wisdom and changed. St. Francis of Assisi and Henry David Thoreau come to mind, the former because I just read something about him. The latter because, like every other school kid, I had to read “Walden” and was surprised to find that once I got into it I liked it.
While folks like St. Francis and Thoreau have made contributions to the world, they didn’t generate a groundswell of change. There wasn’t sufficient critical mass to change mainstream thinking, which was — and still is — grounded in fear and negativity.
But now there are numerous modalities for change and highly visible leaders who have taken the mystery out of change and made it desirable, even when it doesn’t always seem safe.
Something’s Happening Here
It’s been going on since the 1960s, and the civil rights and peace movements are only the most obvious examples. Even the widespread use of drugs, though misguided and ultimately a dead-end (believe me, I’ve been there), was an attempt at what Carlos Castaneda called in his book of the same name, “A Separate Reality.”
Any list of change leaders would be incomplete, but examples range from Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. Pope John Paul II and my fellow Tweeter, Thich Nhat Hanh, at the global level to the Chicago Seven, Rick Warren, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle at the parochial level.
In short, as the Buffalo Springfield put it in “For What It’s Worth,” “Something’s happening here….” And to contradict the next line of the song — “What it is ain’t exactly clear” – I would argue that it’s quite clear, indeed.
People are changing, some of them willingly, some of them tossed out on the street by circumstances not entirely of their own doing. (I’ve been there, too.) The disruption of the global economy has nudged change front and center and generated demand for ways to respond and react. In that light, Ali Hale’s blog is just one example of the trickle-down effect of this inexorable shift.
Change is taking place and the challenge – the opportunity, really – is to welcome it and make the most of it. And that means embracing the uncertainty in which it is wrapped, something I’ll admit I struggle with often. The routine and predictable seem ever so much more comfortable, at least on the face of it. But closer examination reveals that self-imposed order is itself an illusion.
In truth, the sands beneath our feet are always shifting, and we are given countless opportunities to adjust. In the two preceding blogs — “Magic in the Mundane” – I write about how something that happened in a few seconds and changed my life. The key element in that scenario was not just recognizing the opportunity, but also acting on it.
Change It All
At the beginning of “Feelin’ Alright,” on his live “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” LP, Joe Cocker mutters “Change it all…change it all.” Maybe Joe was overstating the case, and maybe he wasn’t. Being brought to my knees in the past few years by finances and romances has been scarifying at the material level, but spiritually it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
As Rumi puts it in “Ayaz and the King’s Pearl,” “Whoever bows down like they are bowing down/will not rise up in his old self again.”
A more contemporary take comes from MercyMe‘s kick-ass song “No More, No Less,” which includes the line “It’s all about the change.” I liked it so much I appropriated it for the subtitle of this website.
The bottom line is this: change is not to be feared. It is an antidote to the “Life’s a bitch and then you die” mentality that dominated previous generations. Welcoming change means we are not victims to whom things happen, but adaptable and intelligent beings intent on finding the best and doing our best with the materials at hand. And being grateful in the process for the opportunity to grow into our authentic selves.