In many ways, life is change. We change. Our partners change. Our bodies change. Our goals change. Our circumstances change. Our environment changes. To be precise, all those things are constantly in flux. Sometimes, we go looking for these changes ourselves, but more often than not, they find us.
Dealing with this reality, and reacting to it, is perhaps one the greatest challenges we face. It's also the key to our happiness, inner peace, and fulfillment. Learning to accept and welcome change is a life long journey. Each experience is an opportunity to explore this further and face our fears and illusions. It is a delicate balance of maintaining our sense of self/self worth and inner strength, letting go of our need for control, surrendering to the wisdom of our hearts, and being present, while also seeing and feeling our paths unfold before and behind us.
No biggie, right?
As I said, it's is an ongoing process. We cannot expect ourselves to be flawless and never to feel fear or anxiety or loss or other powerful emotions. In fact, you should experience them. They promote growth. But if we are aware, and through it all, remain at peace.. then all will be well. This peace I am referring to is the true peace - inner peace. It is not flawlessness, lack of emotion, lack of change, or a static state. No. Peace is simply the ability to maintain your sense of self, your core while walking through swirling chaos. It is the ability to maintain your sense of self through change.
To do this, it is helpful to begin to understand change as a cycle. To begin to sense the expanse of the swirling, twisting path that stretches out around us, that constitutes our past, present, and future. Many traditional cultures and beliefs have used a swirl or combination of interconnected swirls to represent life, the spirit world/the material world/etc. We are going to apply that concept here today, and use it to represent our individual journeys.
Since all existence is a reflection of itself, the cycles that we ourselves experience are also represented in nature, or perhaps, one could say it is the other way around. Think of a magnolia. This beautiful tree flowers in the spring. I love seeing it bloom since in my mind it represents new beginnings, and abundance. The magnolia begins its existence as a seed, and then grows. It changes, each season is different. Years go by and it changes again and grows. It blooms in spring, its leaves flourish in the summer, in autumn they fall, and then comes winter. Those seasons make up years. Years make up decades, and entire lifetimes. These lifetimes reflect greater cycles within the ecosystem, and then within the earth itself. It is like a beautiful, layered, swirling pattern, each loop dependent upon the other, each loop continuing on from the other.
The point where one loop, which consists of a series of smaller events or choices, ends and changes to another is where we find ourselves faced with a huge change. This is where the magnolia is plagued by fire, or flooding, or harsh winds. But we differ from the tree in that these changes provide us with an opportunity. The opportunity to choose. Not just to choose our outfit for the day, but to choose which direction that next loop will go, to choose our path. Note that the event marking the end of one loop and the beginning of another will be momentous. In fact, I guarantee that if you reflect on your life right now, you will be able to pinpoint 2-3 situations (or more) that serve as markers for significant directional shifts in your life.
This change, while hinging as I said upon one main choice, will also be characterized by a period of transition that begins prior to the punctuated moment, and continues shortly after. When you reflect back on your past, or your current situation, consider if you are in the middle of a loop - in the middle of a series of decisions and growth stemming from one shift. Or are you nearing the end of a loop - do you feel stagnant, restless, slightly lost? Do you feel like you are searching for greater understanding, or something new? If so, it is likely that you are in the beginning stages of that cycle of change.
If that is the case, take this time to build. Address what it is that you need to work on to resolve or fully benefit from the current situation you are in. Learn. Do the things you always wanted to do. And when life suddenly comes knocking on your door, you will be prepared. Make your decision with conviction, and then expect to settle in for another period of transition - this one more forward oriented, where instead of tying up loose ends, you will be building the foundation for this future you have chosen. Note that this can be a challenging time, and you may feel like you are scrambling up hill. But if you are aware, and conscious of what life has in store, then that preparatory work will seem joyous rather than tedious to you.
Understanding the cyclic nature of change is empowering really, in that we begin to realize that we are truly free to determine our paths. However, it can also be a bit scary in that we inevitably fear making the wrong decision. "What ifs" plague us, and we search for certainty. The thing is, that certainty is not to be had. The control we seek over our circumstances is illusory. The only certainty we will find is that within our knowledge of ourselves, and it is this that we must follow. Know too that even what may seem to be the "wrong" decision is never such. It is simply a different path, a different loop, but also one that will come around full circle to another opportunity for choice. So whatever decision you make, be true, be introspective, and then make it. Do not let fear grip you and paralyze you, because that too is a choice. It is a path. Inaction is action, after all. Nothing is static in this life, we are part of a dynamic environment and journey. All we can do is reflect, and do our utmost to ensure our choices and paths align with our understanding of our selves and our vocations.
Take some time over the next few days to consider your experiences and your story. Being to trace your personal swirl and cycle of change in your mind. Where did this loop you are in start, how did all the little decisions lead you or pave the way to the larger ones? What events were outside your control, and how did you react? What choices did you make? How did that lead you to where you are now? And most importantly - where are you now? Are you in the middle of a loop, in preparation for a change, or have you just recently been faced with a choice? Where are you going? Reflecting on these questions will give you a better sense of the "meaning" and flow of it all, of this complex thing called life. It will help you to appreciate where you have been, where you are now, and even perhaps provide a glimpse of where you are going, thereby allowing you to more energetically invest yourself in your present situation.
It will also serve as a reminder that you are, quite literally, the creator of your life and the maker of your destiny. You are strong, and capable. So do not cower, or write off the responsibility to others. It is yours. Your responsibility. Your happiness. Your empowerment. And your life.
So claim it.