I’m kind of bummed because I wrote a whole brilliant blog post the other day in Penn Station and then managed to lose it because my ipad didn’t save it. I wrote some great thoughts on change and how changes happen gradually. In retrospect, I think the universe was telling me something because shortly after I wrote it a change occurred that was sudden and abrupt and contradicted some of the things I wrote that day. So now I am trying to realign my thinking about what change really means.
Last week I took the subway for the first time in a very long time. It has probably been six months or more since I last step foot on the subway and that day I happened to have some extra time after my last meeting and decided to forego the usual taxi and hop on a train. It was an extremely familiar journey for me because I was traveling along the same route that I used to take when I commuted into the city. My muscle memory kicked in and, without even realizing it, I was heading down the same steps to the same platform and onto the same train that I took every single day for over a decade. It was very familiar but equally strange because I felt like a young adult who was returning to high school after having been gone for several years. The surroundings are the same but the faces have changed and you have a very strong sense that you do not belong there anymore.
As I walked the long platform to head towards Penn Station, I thought about how much had changed in my life over the past several years since I left my life as a commuter to begin my journey of self-employment. I didn’t feel any different, thought I looked the same when I stared in the mirror (except for some extra pounds from being more sedentary and more lines on my face), but I knew I had changed. There was a seismic shift that came from a series of small little tremors rather than one large earth-trembling quake. Little things shifted day after day that created a new reality for me.
I remember talking to my therapist a while back about when things change. I have been in therapy for the better part of my adult life and I often wonder when the changes occur. When will I be healed? When will the problems go away? Well, of course, they never go away but you, hopefully, grow and change and begin to see the world through new eyes with new perspectives and gain new skills for coping. Then, one day I walked into her office and started talking and knew, even if just in some tiny way, that I was different. The shift had occurred without my noticing and I was changed. Some of my old perspectives did not fit into my new reality. Words I had spoken merely weeks ago did not make sense to me. I was not sure when or exactly how those perspectives got gray and died but I knew they did. Some of the pain that I had experienced or behaviors that were so common for me had passed away and now a new set of pains and behaviors replaced them but they were somewhat more manageable.
Change is an amazing thing because, much like endings which I wrote about last week, it is often connected with negative connotations. Many of us regard change as a bad thing, particularly when the change happens outside of our control. But, of course, change is often a wonderful thing. Change creates opportunities for growth and development and perspective — all of which is critically important to help our lives evolve and for us to live to our full potential. It would be wonderful if we could control when change occurs but it is far more important to pay attention to the changes as they happen. There is so much to be learned from change, whether it be the ways in which we handle it or the opportunities that come along when the change is foisted upon us. No matter what, it is almost always true that when we reflect back upon changes in our lives – even those that seem devastatingly painful – the proverbial window usually does open as the door slams shut.
As I walked along the platform that day last week I felt peaceful in knowing that, while my life is not perfect and I did not design the changes as I might have liked to, I have the ability to see that change has helped me grow and become a better person in more ways that I can describe in these words.