Thursday, August 13, 2009

Living in the past

Once I used to join in

Every boy and girl was my friend.

Now there's revolution, but they don't know

What they're fighting.

Let us close our eyes;

Outside their lives go on much faster.

Oh, we won't give in,

We'll keep living in the past.

~~Jethro Tull

My friend Mark at The Trash Whisperer noted on Facebook that one thing that most of these town hall protesters seem to have in common is that they just don't like change. It's odd that he mentioned that, because I was thinking the same thing this week. Seeing the anger made me think that maybe people were acting so angry because they are afraid, and one of the things that makes people afraid is change.

That led me to think (are you still with me?) about dealing with change in our own lives. We've all experienced change throughout the years of our lives, and change can be one of the greatest stressors, whether it's a welcome change like a wedding or an unwanted one like a funeral. I believe that how we deal with life's inevitable changes is one of the things that defines and sharpens our character, and is an indicator of our strength of will and mental health.

Changes It seems there are more people than usual going through major changes these days; a job or a business lost; a marriage ending; a midlife crisis begun. I've seen the gamut of reactions, ranging from grace, good humor, and acceptance to anger, bitterness, and denial. I've seen people realize that the only choice for them is to roll with the changes (thanks, R.E.O.) and move forward to the next challenge, and I've seen people make the choice to never accept that the world has moved on and instead, to stay mired in the stagnant pools of their personal misery. I've seen people take the crummy cards that have been dealt them and turn them into a winning hand; I've also seen those who would rather throw down their hand in anger and shoot the dealer.

I have regretted actions in the past, but I try not to dwell on my mistakes. I understand that is part of being a human being, and I truly hope that I've never hurt anyone too badly by the things I've said or done. There are always hurts along the way, and some of those I have caused have stuck with me; I've tried to apologize when I've had the chance. Sometimes I've even been forgiven. For those hurts that have been done to me, I've done my best to get over them and forge ahead. Certain things will always linger, but I try not to let them define me, or to carry around excessive emotional baggage. And I don't hold onto anger, at least not that slow-burning anger that smolders in your gut like a banked fire. When I think of specific things, I might have a flare of anger, but it really doesn't last long. What's the point? Who is it hurting other than myself? I just throw a little sarcasm at it and move along.

There aren't a lot of people from my past that I still encounter. I'm fortunate in that with those I do, I mostly have good relationships, and there are some who I consider good friends. I've known some people who seem to hate pretty much everyone from their past, except for those who have died. When it comes to those types of people, I guess you have to die in order to get in their good graces! It wouldn't surprise me that if the departed were still with us, the haters would find reason to hate them, too. It's easy to eulogize people that you don't have to deal with every day. The question is, how do you treat those who are still around?

Change is happening constantly. On the best of days, we control the changes; on the worst, they control us. How do you deal? Nothing less than your long-term peace of mind is at stake.


  1. People sometimes feel helpless during change. Loss of control, loss of the ability to control their life. Decisions made by others. People fear change because they do not understand what is going on. Few take the time to explain to everyone the process of the change and the reasons for it. Prepare for the change and move slowly taking small steps. Whatever happened to Americans changing to the metric system? I thought your President declared that Americans were not bright enough to be able to accept this system, so he cancelled the change. Pehaps it was he who was not the bright one and the rest of you would have done just fine.

  2. It is the one constant in the universe: change.

    And, control, well, it's an illusion people.

    You learn that fast when health issues happen, very fast, and either you learn not to sweat change or you become a hater. And, really life is too damn short to be one of those for me. :-)

    be well...

  3. Perhaps my feelings about change are too simplistic, but I think that change is exciting. Sometimes change isn't for the best, but even in those cases it opens up new horizons to which we, as thinking humans, are able to adapt. Straight roads aren't as interesting as twisty ones.

  4. I used to be one of those people who didn't "do" change. I believed that the more things stay the same the better they are.
    I decided to stop doing that. When presented with an option I would no longer choose the safe, no-change choice, I'd pick 'B'.
    I call it "Shaking the Etch-a-Sketch." Every so often you have to mess up those neat little lines and curlicues and start at a different point or take off in an utterly new direction.
    We only get to go around in "this" life once, so why not try to make it as interesting as possible?


  5. Change can be good or it can be bad. It's rational, after examining the changes and determining whether the imminent change is good or bad, to either fear or embrace it. But to fear change itself, without processing an understanding of the meaning and implication of the change, I don't think can be regarded as rational. It's hysterical. What is common among these town hall meeting protesters is that they're suffering irrational euphoric hysteria - they feed each other, and whip each other into a frenzy. So much of their behaviour is indefensible, because there is simply no defence for idiocy borne of ignorance.

    Your observations on post-change response and retrospection are on the mark, Beth. I feel a bit of a blog coming on :)

  6. A very good entry. I found myself nodding my head in agreement plenty of times. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Life can and is unpredictable. Anyone believing they can stay mired in secluded ignorance over time gets a reality check. The reality check is what throws them for a loop, upends their world and leaves them bitter.

    Me? I've learned to make the most of what I have. I once had someone ask me why I wasn't bitter and didn't hate the majority of humanity. My response was why, why lose days, moments ensnared and lost in hatred. You don't get those days, weeks or hours back. Life is way too short.

    Stand up for what you believe? By all means. Know where you stand and the issues your fighting for. Ignorance doesn't move mountains, it buries you a sand pit you can't pull yourself out of. (Hugs)Indigo

  8. if someone needs to be in control and then they are confronted with change, of any kind, it can cause their entire world seemingly to go off kilter. One thing about this life is thank God we are all different and no one is the same. Some are able to handle change easily. Some are not. Some have never been taught coping capabilities in their life. Some are plain stupid.

    sometimes i also think it takes some people a long time to grow up or learn to believe in themselves enough to move forward with courage and even be able to change.

    i can not imagine anyone hating you or not forgiving you. You are an awesome person.

  9. Hi Beth,
    I like to think that many changes -- even the ones that seem terrible at first -- can be turned into opportunities if you work hard enough at it. Regarding all the health care protests, the one 'change' I'd like to see is for everyone to move away from the ridiculous scare tactics and rhetoric to a serious discussion of the issues.

  10. Only 20% of the population embraces change, the other 80% either avoid or wait to see the final outcome. I am glad we both are embracers, and that we can laugh of the sceptics :o)

  11. " thing that most of these town hall protesters seem to have in common is that they just don't like change."

    That is the dictionary definition of "conservative," after all.

  12. Just what I needed to hear. I often worry about change in my personal life; I've always been an introvert who works at hiding it. I am always filled with trepidation at the prospect of dealing with some change in my personal life. Funny, but that doesn't extend to social change at all. Your philosophical discussion on change really speaks to me.

    BTW, I had no idea that there was a town called Changes!


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