Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Go Changin'

"Nothing endures but change."
- Heraclitus

hate change.

Absolutely and without question I hate it.

The best example of my fear of change happened in the Fall of 1990, when I studied for a semester in London.

Fresh off the plane, and looking for a place to stay for the night, my then girlfriend, now ex-wife, and I found ourselves lost on a street corner in the largest city I had ever set foot in.

I was losing my mind. "What am I doing? What was I thinking? This was a big mistake!"
As we tried to figure out where we were on a map that was literally a book, and we didn't even know what page we were on, I wasn't sure I was going to make it through this.

The fear of the unknown overcame me.
I became paralyzed by my fear of change. The girlfriend went off to find a cheap B&B in the neighborhood while I sat guarding our luggage on the street corner. I wanted to curl up in a ball and click my heels together and go back to the good old campus I knew at Grinnell College.

Just as I was about to find a way to get a taxi ride back to Heathrow Airport and fly home, the girlfriend arrived with keys in her hand to our home for the night...the seediest B&B I've ever spent the night in. But I was rescued.

Fast forward 15 years, and you'll be able to understand how I've become able to deal with major life changes now. In the last 6 years I've lost:

- My wife of 13 years, and my girlfriend for another 4
- Three additional relationships with women I cared deeply about

- Two jobs to bad economies

- A townhouse, and with it a large amount of equity

- My car (for a day anyway)

- At times, my dignity

In addition, I've had to learn how to be a single dad (there's no tag teaming when I have my sons), and how to do everything it takes to run a household, because I'm both the mom and the dad in my house the time I have those boys.

I also had to re-learn (or in reality, learn for the first time) how to date. And if you don't think dating is scary, then you obviously are reading my blog for the very first time.

But I still manage to get up every day, put a smile on my face (sometimes admittedly a fake one), and make a step toward embracing these changes as they hit me.

I learn from each loss - what can I do differently in the future to avoid this happening again? I dissect it with the passion of a high school biology teacher dissecting a frog.

I still hate change.
I don't like it when my world comes crashing down around me.

When it happens, I will still have my short bursts of panic/paralysis, maybe a bit of anger thrown in.

But now I know that just because you don't like change, doesn't mean you can stop it.

The only thing that is constant in this world is change.

Nope, you won't find me sitting on a stack of luggage on a scary street corner in London, waiting to be rescued, anymore.

I'll be off searching for that key, so I can find a place to call home for the night.


J. Otto Pohl said...

In the last ten years I have lived on four continents. I am running out of places to go. My plan is to stay here in Ghana until I retire. As soon as I get my family out of Kyrgyzstan to join me things will be pretty close to paradise. I have had seen enough of revolutions close up for one life time. The calm sedate life of a lecturer is just fine with me now.

Life Under Construction said...

Otto, I can imagine you're enjoying the tranquility of lecturing after your experiences!


Randee said...

inspiring and very relatable

Michael C said...

I can also relate, in the past three years, I got a divorce after 24 years, my mom passed away and lived a threat of a flood for a summer. Life just like to throw challenges my way. As far as dating well lets just say your way ahead of me on that “scary” path. Thanks for your words.

Anonymous said...

Change, some of us had to change fast..kids and marriage, barely an adult to begin with.. Some of us had to change jobs and make it after being laid off. Some of us had to tackle divorce.. And just maybe each day you talk to someone who lives with someone that a major disease has taken over their life. Yep, changes exist, it is not the change that makes us the person we are it is how we handle the change. A great deal of the time change is really a terrible ride, but most of the time change brings us to a new place better than where we were to begin with..

Life Under Construction said...

Michael - I know you've endured alot. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Anonymous - Very true. In the end it does take us to a new, better place.