do I really have to change?


Change is what we’re here for. Transformation. Development. Our souls always sending out some desire for something new which leads us towards change if we let it. Or we bump into unexpected circumstances that require us to become more truly ourselves by leaving behind what’s old. Someone we work with or live with or love resists us or conflicts with us. A friendship blooms and requires us to develop something new. Or one fades. We fall pregnant unexpectedly. We visit a new town, city, country and decide to stay. And of course there are even bigger shifts when someone we love dies or a major catastrophe engulfs us. All of these require change. (I’m not even going to start exploring the signs of much-needed change emerging in our political systems).

Yet we can be so resistant. We can linger in some totally unhelpful habit and know that it feels stale and old but somehow not know how to make the transition to what is new. Some part of us insists that we have always behaved this way at work, in friendships and relationships, in sickness. We are used to being the one who teases, the highly opinionated one, the person who moves too fast/too slow, the one who soldiers on.

And yet some part of us will be showing us that we are causing oh, so much disarray with our outdated habits, or our heart is broken because we can’t stop ourselves from getting in the way of who we want to become, or we feel depressed or stuck or mired in loneliness. All of these produce what I articulate as that extremely icky feeling which indicates that a change is required. The ickiness of the feeling is the signal. We need to do something different.

Now this is all very well and good when we know how to do whatever new thing seems to be required. But most new things have that totally unfamiliar aspect to them where we are required to be a little clunky or awkward or keep falling over while we learn how to do what they ask of us.

The two year old son of my friend today was trying to show us how this kind of learning is done most effectively. He fell probably half a dozen times during our creek walk and playground visit, once with particular delight after hanging upside down on the play equipment we later found out he was actually too young to play on (by the rules). But he was delighted to break the rules, to fall and clamber and to hang upside down for a rather long time, and when hanging no longer served his purpose, he allowed himself to fall quite gracefully onto the padded playground surface. Landing with a grin. Later, he lost his trousers without being the slightest bit troubled and simply revealed his nappy unashamedly to the world.

change graffiti aaron gustafsonAs adults, we don’t have this same delight in uncertainty and inadequacy, in dropping, in falling, in being clunky, in revealing what we don’t think fits. I’m just struggling with some major clunkiness myself recently and it is embarrassing and vulnerable and yet, and yet, I’m trying to be like my small friend, Jack, unashamed at losing my proverbial pants while I’m learning something new. Smiling even though it hurts.

And risking, risking always, the vulnerability that the contemporary queen of vulnerability and wholeheartedness, Brené Brown, is always urging us to risk.

And there is, I truly believe and have experienced, support for these changes. What I like to call the unseen forces, labelled quite specifically as hierarchies and beings in many spiritual traditions are very keen to help us evolve as part of the whole earth development, as our contribution to the great cosmic dance. They wait for us, these beings, these forces to ask the very important question which invites their collaboration. And the question can be as vague and inarticulate as, ‘How on earth do I do this thing I don’t know how to do?’

And I know I harp on this a bit because I can be so very intemperate myself, but the next step is that we can’t try to panic our way into an answer. We actually have to let go for long enough for the answer to come to us. That doesn’t mean we can’t fruitfully mull over what is needed, but it does mean that we have to stop desperately trying to fix it, sort it out and get over whatever distress our clunkiness is causing us.

I’m asking the question now about a topic in my life and admitting that I lack the patience to wait gracefully, and need help even with that. And while I contemplate the patience that I haven’t quite achieved, I allow a state of creative wonder to stir in my soul.

I have learned, in spite of my resistance, that it’s into this state of creative wonder that the answer can occur to us, or at least the first tiny step that may or may not lead towards an answer. While we are talking with a friend, watching a child play, walking along the creek, listening to the radio in the car.

We encounter something (always) which gives us a clue if we allow ourselves openness and playfulness and ask. The question. And be willing to look foolish with our pants down or hang upside down for a while and live in doubt and uncertainty for as long as it takes to find out what’s next.

Thank you for reading as I tell myself this. Yet again. And may we all wish ourselves blessings as we allow ourselves the uncertainty, the clunkiness, the beauty of change.

Image credit Melbourne street art 2004 photographed by Marc from Berlin

Image credit 2 Planting the seeds of change photographed by Aaron Gustafson

6 thoughts on “do I really have to change?”

  1. I think we do not have to change if we are comfortable with the enormous pain we experience by staying in the “old” when “new” is being asked for.
    While contemplating how can I shift my perception of the present life circumstances towards more helpful ones, a thought came to me: can I be grateful for the sacrifice that has been asked of me?
    I do not have this gratitude at the moment, but the though itself opened something in me, maybe it opened a door to see it in a different way. Maybe it opened a possibility for a need to arise?
    I am not sure if gratitude is the way to free me from my pains. But maybe it is like a little seed that can grow into something new that is being asked of me, something I have not even a slightest idea what it is and how to go about it.
    Very deep, timely and difficult topic of change, Clare, thankyou for sharing your thoughts…

  2. Thank you Clare, for telling yourself this again so I can read it! I may always need to hear this, and certainly do at the moment. Your description of the two year old reminded me of a similar incident I witnessed some years ago at a time when we were both in Forest Row. A small child beeping the horn of a parked car with wild joy and abandon, breaking all the rules, eventually making outraged grownups laugh, and meanwhile teaching me something (that I have since forgotten and remembered many times) about the art of letting go.

    Thank you for being honest and open enough to share this place of vulnerability with us in the moment of it happening. Sending you many blessings as you embrace the clunkiness, the beauty, all of it.

  3. dear graceful Clare, thanks for this timely post. I am grateful for your encouragement to be playful and vulnerable in this time of feeling uncertain, unknowing, inadequate…and to welcome “clunkiness” into the Guest House.

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