“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”
January is coming to a quick close as we forge ahead into the New Year with the anticipation of Spring! The first month of the year, is the month where we have no choice but to move on from an old year into a new one. It can be a wonderful time and opportunity for tossing old things out, clearing our way free from the past and removing ourselves from destructive relationships. The New Year is about change. When we have a positive outlook on life, we can see the world as the magical Spinning Ball that it is and how it can give us an enormous amount of joy and wonder. Buddha had once said, “if you see the world as a defiled world that is what your world will be.” So how we see our surroundings is vital to our well being.
The New Year is open to wonder, hope and miracles. If we pay attention we will see and experience the wonder around us with each passing month, rather than focusing on the horror of media or the horror that might even be going on in our personal worlds.
Whenever I talk to just about anyone with regard to change, I hear a resounding and definitive, “I hate change!” Even if that change implies a better and happier course for one’s life, there still seems to be resistance. (I had a conversation with a lovely woman a few weeks ago who could not bring herself to part with an old, worn out wallet!) Sometimes I wonder if the apprehension to any modification in our lives is merely an intellectual state of inertia and once that is conquered, the body, mind and heart does not resist the natural course of forward motion…Perhaps the fear of change originated from the illusions of our childhoods, religious anxiety and the trappings of our outdated belief systems, coupled with unhealthy psychological entrainment. Some of us are unknowingly held hostage to our memories, whether they are good memories or not. We hang on to photographs, we buy into the over marketing of holidays and the material world, as if the material world guarantees us something “reliable”. In ways we become the frozen, yet lovely majestic image inside of our favorite snow-globe(s) and we preserve and protect our menageries as if they are the sustenance to our lives. We hope and pray that nothing will “break” for if something does, some part of our lives will undoubtedly unravel, thus change is imminent. We are seldom prepared for any disruption to our routine.
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. --Harold Wilson
Without change there can be no growth, yet even the simplest changes can feel unnerving. On a more challenging level, when change occurs in our personal world or professional world, something breaks or needs shifting, we realize time and again that we cannot control or prevent the moving forward of life. It will move and we can either go with it, kicking and screaming all the way, or (!) we can take a deep breath and go with the current of it rather than resist. Buddha also said to look at things as if they are already broken as he saw everything as impermanent.
Eventually, the treasured snow globe shatters into innumerable pieces, as do many marriages and careers. Life is not life if it is not moving forward, yet with the craziness of our daily schedules, we are unaware of what is constantly transforming inside of us and around us. If we take the time to notice, we will come to understand how every aspect of our life shifts, every moment and sometimes in the discomfort of adjustment we need to uproot ourselves, either emotionally, physically or both. We shutter at the thought of losing our jobs or changing our career paths. Moving to another home and even leaving old, stagnant and dysfunctional relationships can be exciting, when these changes are our choices. Of course, few of us move without some apprehension, yet we feel excited at the prospects of new adventures and experiences, when the decisions are our choice. When change does not feel as though it is our choice and our comfort zones are infringed upon, fear and anxiety become the roadblocks to the path of brighter and happier days.
At some point, if we do not take the leap and face the unpleasant situations in our lives, we will not move forward. We will remain stuck, just like the image in our favorite snow globe. Perhaps there is some beauty to that world, but do we really want to make our home inside of a frozen world that does not really exist? (Any world that is not in motion is a world that belongs to the—past.) Why do more of us hold on to things and relationships that have long been broken or that no longer work? Why do we stay in loveless relationships, constantly trying to fix the Unfixable? These answers are as individual as the individuals involved and only we who depart and move on to uncharted waters can see clearly, The Whys of our pasts. Sometimes we cling to the familiar out of habit or we resist letting go and moving on, until a force higher and mightier than our little will—moves us (!) albeit against our will.
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For a decade now, the song, Ch-ch-Changes, by David Bowie has prodded me, guided me, and serenaded me all the way to and through the many horrible and liberating stages of, divorce. One morning I awoke to the song, and the lyrical line, “so I turned myself to face me…” and I found the song rewinding itself in my mind the entire day. If we are honest and hold the glance with ourselves long enough to address our fears, we might just hear Bowie (or our ourselves…) continue serenading us with, “I still don’t know what I was waiting for…” as we enthusiastically run for the hills, leaving our past behind us. Suddenly we become the very changes and possibilities that represent our—new lives.
It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. -- W. Ewards Deming
Compromises often represent many marriages and survival is at the root of countless relationships, personal and professional. (I think we all can agree with this.) We are on this planet to survive—Darwin was right and whether one stays married or one gets divorced, changes jobs or simply decides to redefine their lives and move across the globe, perspectives of survival is different for each of us. Some of us just exist and don’t know that there can be more to—life. After the shortly lived honeymoon period with many marriages some of us hide behind the Lie for decades. I don’t know how many couples actually believe in the love- in- marriage-part, after they are married… Others become adventurers who brave the unknown terrain (without a map to guide them) of divorce and who see divorce as a "practical" path of survival. For many of us, divorce is our means of keeping ourselves alive. We crawl away from that which we no longer believe in; that which has no integrity and that which has no love. (but maybe it has a house or two!)
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For several years now I have listened to individuals who have taken that leap from marital woes to personal independence and all agree that there is more to the art of living than mere survival. If we are embroiled in our past, our hours and our days can feel like a slow death in decades of quick sand. (When we take the leap of divorce, all other shifts in life seem easier to accept.) Departing a loveless and indifferent marriage allows one to emotionally prosper, which is a far greater quality of life than mere surviving physically. The Property Settlement Agreement may leave one with “less-to-possess”, however, sometimes less is more when we are no longer stuck in the stagnation of our lives: the weight that has been lifted is simply an idea and illusion of something we believed existed.
When we adjust our lives in accordance with change we understand that happiness does not necessarily come with the attachment of another. Remember: this is your life (!) so proceed with awareness and feel alive! Don’t hand your life over to anyone else! There is no second chance for your time here and to know your one opportunity might be wasted will be a horrible thing to know.
We would rather be ruined than changed; We would rather die in our dread
than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die. -- W.H. Auden
There is a way out of this travesty, I see individuals do not take The Way Out. Rather they remain In It, stuck in: escapism. Some of us cling to the illusion of fantasy, T.V., history, religion, work, Santa's holiday, (technology is one of the greatest forms of escapism, especially for our young…) and all of the propaganda that goes along with society. We all know better, but some of us still look the other way and “stay”. We stay in the quagmire of our muddled minds and our unhappy lives and we pray and hope that our neighbors, friends and country club goers don’t notice that our lives are as horrible and misereable as theirs! On some level we escape and in a tragic way we know we do not, not really. What many of us do with our lives is: sleep-through-it. We Novocain ourselves from birth till death, all in the name of guilt and suffering. (depressing but true) It is no wonder Buddhism is the antithesis to every aspect of our western culture. It is the only religion I know of to date that promotes the alleviation of suffering, guilt and the hurting or judging of any living being.
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Yet (!) there is hope! In one miraculous instant of experiencing the feeling of Alive, joy becomes the possibility of a new life. In the fleetingness of a sacred moment, we alone, can create miracles.
Joy equips us with the necessary tools to extricate ourselves from toxic relationships of all kinds. If we follow the relationships and heritages that promote only joy and abandons all suffering, good and healthy relationships will find us from personal to professional.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Author unknown, commonly mis-attributed to Charles Darwin (ironically)
Much of this life becomes habit based on a carefully crafted, organized and extremely repressed prototype. When we remove ourselves from the noise of our surroundings, even for a few quiet moments every day, we can separate the real from the folly—the unimportant frivolities of life. In this quietude we can get to the core of life that really gives life its meaning. In the silence of our minds we notice, ever so delicately (and privately) that thing in one's heart that one does not, cannot create, but is just there. There is some-thing that defies religion and society and all belief systems. I am not talking about the idea of love we think we have for someone; I am referring to that joy one finds in another—that same joy one finds in life itself. When you find that happiness inside of yourself, you know you will always be safe, no matter the turns your moving-forward-life takes you. You pause. You go—again—forward! You arrive at a place, a real place inside of you and you see and feel somehow, some way, even if you do not know how, everything will workout as it should. When we embrace change we no longer feel that we might fall off that Spinning, Magical Ball we call, earth. Rather, we realize that we are as much a part of the world as it is us—we are safe.
And if things don’t go as planned? When change devastates? Silver linings in our lives are always perceptions we can choose to see as miracles. What is horrible today is a gift tomorrow; all we have to do is change how we see the horrible…
I see. I feel. I look above and around and I am surrounded by the magic of that great, big, wonder-filled, Spinning, Magical Ball we are all a part of. We change with the hours, days and years, as they pass, but don’t look back, don’t try to find what no longer is, just keep moving and know: “time may change us but we can not trace time…”
So, when that Clock is about to strike 12 and that noon train is approaching around the bend; the tracks are laden with golden bricks pointing in a Direction and your life is asking you: Decide, Decide, Decide...who are you going to listen to? Your heart or your mind?
Will you change your life’s path?
(only time will tell...)