One of my favorite childhood memories is of being on the playground at our elementary school, zipping down slides, often landing on my bottom; playing on the huge, metal swing-sets, pumping my legs as hard as I could, until I felt I could see forever, and then… when I thought I was high enough to fly, actually fly … when the time was just right… I recall taking a deep breath, releasing the chain-links of the swing, propelling my body through the air, and landing on the red clay and grass below. It was glorious!
And then there were the monkey bars. Swinging across, pulling my body forward. Right hand. Left hand. Rung after rung until I reached the opposite side and started all over again.
I clearly recall the first few times I tried the monkey bars. They were scary! I had to figure out just when to let go of one hand and extend and grab with the other. At first, it was difficult for me to let go, once I had become comfortable with just dangling from the first couple of rungs. I recall thinking, “ I could just stay here for a minute, and just hang, “ but then, I decided that there was no fun in just hanging and eventually dropping to the ground. My young mind was smart enough to know that the fun was in the moving along. So, I had to learn to let go of where I was. I had to learn to be comfortable with that tiny moment of disequilibrium. That place in between letting go of where I was and getting to where I wanted to be.
Change is like that, you know. A constant letting go, propelling yourself toward what is to come.
It’s not always easy. There are those moments of disequilibrium. Emotional vertigo. A feeling that there is no “footing”. Just like the moment in which you first decided to actually jump from the swing or push yourself down that monstrous slide. I mean, in your little kid imagination, going down a slide for the first time was like sledding down Mt. Everest!
Look, as we romp through this playground of life, Change, if we are lucky, ( Yes, I said “lucky”! ) is always going to show up. We may not have invited her into our playground games, but there she is, telling us it’s time to move forward, to let go of the swing, to slide, to get across that monkey bar.
Sometimes, Change can be downright frightening. Especially when she shows up in the form of the loss of a loved one or maybe through a medical diagnosis or relocating to a new city or town. There she is, Change. Telling us to let go. To move forward, and get acquainted with a “new normal”; to move along, when we just got comfortable hanging where we are!
She doesn’t always play “nice “ this Change. Sometimes she says things like “What are you afraid of ?” or “ What’s the worst thing that can happen?” or “What are you made of, huh?” or “It’s not all about you. Get over yourself! ”
Change is a loudmouth, and is constantly pushing you to get down that slide or jump from the swing or grab the next rung; reminding you that just hanging and dropping out of life game isn’t a viable option.
We try to silence her, this noisy playground crasher. We try to hide. Get away. Disconnect from her any way that we can. Why? Because we want to stay in the past; that familiar place of “old normal”, even if that place no longer serves us well.
As annoying as she is, Change is there, not to make us feel bad about ourselves, but to keep us mindful of how we’re doing ; to keep us from dropping out of our own lives; to move us toward our future selves. To keep us in The Game.
So, how do you beat Change? You don’t! You join her. You say, “Yeah! What’s the worst thing that can happen?” or “Hmm! I might just learn something!” or “I know that there’s something better, but I have to let go of this___________________!”
No matter who we are, or how strong we think we are, just hanging becomes exhausting. Stagnation, settling, staying stuck is not living. Where’s the joy and the wonder and the adventure of just hanging? That’s really what Change wants us to know; that we deserve adventurous, joyful fulfilling lives, and that the promise of such is in the moving along and the letting go.
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