Everyone says that change is inevitable, but no one really believes it. It’s fine that we see our children get older, but somehow we are left out of that picture. With the exception of those moments we look in the mirror and notice this or that is sagging a little, life goes on day to day like a comfortable trance separating us from something we don’t want to recognize. In other words, we expect everything to stay the same if we act like the ostrich with its head in the ground. When we live in our expectations, we act and believe something will happen in life. Normally, expecting anything is a dangerous thing to do because, if unfulfilled, we can automatically devolve into a major upset. In midlife, I’m very clear change is one thing we can all expect. Who would have expected to look the way we do now? Who would have expected life to turn out the way it did, good or bad? Who could have ever believed that anyone we loved would die, in our heart of hearts. How often have you felt shock when suddenly confronted with these inevitable circumstances?
You Never Know
The truth is, we live on the earth and, like the earth, we are in constant motion. On the outside, our earth moves in tandem with the planets, suns, and stars. Deep within it, there is a constant revisionary process of molten lava, churning and floating among layers of plates upon which our illusion of solid ground is built. The floor of the ocean is moving constantly. New ridges are pushed up from the lava forming subterranean mountain ranges, earthquakes and tsunamis. These reshape the land, just as our external and internal environments change us on a daily basis. It can happen in increments or in major life shifts.
We never really know what a day will bring. For example, today I woke up expecting to go to lunch with a friend. She called to say she was sick. As a result, here I sit writing this post. I planned, without “expecting”, to finish it tomorrow, not today. This is a smaller shift. But I can remember a time when I went to visit my mother in the hospital with a catalogue in my purse –– planning to ask her what she needed for Christmas. My brother walked out of a room and stopped me in my path. He looked down and told me our mother was dead. That was a big change in my life. Unable to stand and screaming a guttural cry that rang throughout the hospital, I collapsed into a chair that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
The only way we can prepare for change, in midlife or any other time, is to expect it. We clearly can’t protect ourselves from it. Change is everywhere. There is, in fact, no such thing as being immune or safe. Some say, change is the only thing in the world you can count on. Every day is an opportunity to fully experience the moment before it evolves into the next one.