“The only thing that is constant is change,” wrote the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus.
This is true, yet often hard to accept. Seasons are one thing — the trees budding out or covered in snow; those things are predictable, at least, and cyclical. The unpredictable, non-cyclical events are hard to plan around. And hard to stomach — especially when they are huge things like death or divorce. But when you’re living through a pandemic, little things loom large.
After this seemingly endless roller coaster of hope that we’ll realize we’re all in this together and the failure of that optimistic idea popping fast as a soap bubble; the loss of jobs and relationships commingled with the gained perspective of identifying what matters, realigning our priorities, and appreciating the moment; the worry of checking in on friends and family you haven’t seen in months, evolving “recommendations” from federal agencies, and a pervasive sense of we might be really fucked now, all you want to do is to meet a colleague for a drink after work. Go on a date. See a show. Eat at a restaurant.
This is the “normal” we crave. It’s the stuff we could count on to provide a modicum of relief from being alive in the world.
I regularly try to find the meaning in the hard things we’re put through. Is Covid just teaching us how to live with disappointment? The cancellations, rescheduling, shifts in requirements, and evolution of policies are damn tiring. There are days that anticipating a vacation seems like a dream long vanished. Is there any point is making a reservation when it will, more than likely, fall through? Dare I even purchase concert tickets knowing that they might (probably will) get moved or be refunded? Can I invite a friend to dinner? Nope. She just tested positive.
When all of life feels up in the air for a short time, we manage. We adapt. We are creative problem solvers, even if we think we aren’t. But over these interminable stretches, how do we manage, when everything, EVERYTHING is subject to change?
I once had a pretty good boss who flattered me when he referred to me as a “change agent.” I love that moniker. And I’ve always felt more comfortable than most with certain kinds of change. But I realize now, part of hovering in this liminal space between then and now actually makes it hard for other, more meaningful, things to actually change. There is, in fact, a cessation of so much — socially, culturally, educationally, career-wise — that, despite all the rearranging we’ve had to do, it’s also meant putting so much on pause.
I’m ready for change, out of this stuck place where we have become mired into a future that is desperately hard to see some days. So far, I just wake up and look in the mirror and see that my hair is changing… to become more gray.