There seems to be a cultural consensus that “change is good.” It helps us move “forward.” That is how we meet our “goals.” And yet, as any housecat will tell you—change is also bad. For example, running the vacuum. A bad change. Ditto for redecorating. So, which is it?
I like having a vision, an action item, a focus. Yet I won’t put a positive moral judgement on my goal-oriented personality. Sure, I’m trying to maximize. I have also mislaid my car keys, said something insensitive, and spent money frivolously.
And my forward motion isn’t exactly change. Writing a book, imagining a new project, getting a group to work creatively—that isn’t change. It is more like an expression of the essential part of myself. But that isn’t new.
I’ve lived in the same house for half my life. I’m married to my high school boyfriend. However, this house is thousands of miles from where I was raised. The boyfriend is a second husband. So—change or stability? Obviously both.
I love it when I or a friend can experience a fresh start. There is nothing like a sense of rebirth to keep us going. That isn’t change in the consumer sense—not a new car, or a new to do list. It is change in the more profound sense, as in everything changes no matter how we respond.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. True or false? In some ways yes. Fashion for example looks different but feels identical—a cultural ready made that demands conformity—no matter the time or place. The housecat says—false. A vacuum will never be a comfy nap. If you throw out someone else’s beloved ratty T-shirt (or, God forbid, try and wash the toddler’s blanket) it will be obvious that things have not stayed the same. Things are worse, much worse.
I’ve tried to change my basic character, and totally failed. I’ve tried to change my most neurotic self-destructive traits and had unexpectedly good success. I painted the bedroom apricot and liked it. Years later, I painted the faded walls the same hue and liked it again.
I think I’m not so much a fan of change per se as I am a fan of the ability to develop and grow. To emerge, to stretch, to begin anew. A caterpillar can’t turn into a butterfly more than once, but a butterfly can flutter off in a new wind.