As Confucius said: “Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”
Since I fall somewhere in the middle, I guess I will have to keeping changing.
And change I do.
I change outfits, my mind, cities, apartments. I moved recently, from one Vancouver inner-city hood to another Vancouver inner-city hood. When I told one friend in particular she asked me why, and so I listed all the good reasons I had for moving, which included more space, better hood, cat-friendly building, but did not include a short list of what was wrong with my old place. And so she asked again why would I move if there was nothing wrong with my place. That's a pretty common reaction to change, isn't it, and it got me wondering – why are we so afraid of change?
The fear of the unknown. Our fear of not knowing what’s around the proverbial corner has led many to never turn that corner. We doubt ourselves. What if we try this and fail – what then? Our imaginations dream up a hundred terrible things that could happen if we apply for that job, make that move, try that new hobby. (What if we dreamt up wonderful things instead?)
We agonize over decisions. Is this the right choice? Is this the right time to make this choice? What if we’re wrong? Then what? And we apply this to so many levels of change – from changing our hair dresser (it grows back, people!) to changing our university majors to changing our jobs. How can we be sure? (We can’t.)
We act like change itself is unchanging. If we move, we will have to stay there forever and what if we don’t like it? (Move back. Move somewhere else.) If we try a new restaurant, and we don’t like it, we will have wasted a meal. If we try something new, it doesn't mean that we can't keep doing what we loved before.
We like to fear change, but what we should fear is remaining in situations that are harmful to us. We stay in bad relationships far too long. We stay in jobs that bore us to tears for fear that a new job would be, at best, the same. We keep terrible friends
because we’ve known them for so long. We make the same decisions over and over
because, even though we don’t like the outcome, we know the outcome, and knowing is better than not knowing. We settle.
We would rather be ruined than changed,
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
— W. H. Auden
Change is good
What if going through both big and small changes made you more flexible, and with each new stretch, you became more flexible and therefore more adept at change? And what if change was impermanent, and not the lifelong choice we sometimes make it out to be? What of change made you smarter by making you look at things in a new way, from a different perspective? What if change opened your mind and showed you that your life could be better, easier, more interesting?
What if change were good and not a horrible unknown evil hell-bent on making your life worse?
What would Steve Jobs do?
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” ― Steve Jobs
Well, I certainly culled my quotes online, but have amassed a number of jotted-down notes without jotted-down references. This will have to suffice: Thanks Internet.