Sunday, November 15, 2009

Embracing change

This morning I finished reading "Everything Changes and Ends," the first (and incredibly compelling) chapter of David Richo's The Five Things We Cannot Change, sat down to meditate, then came to my computer, checked my email, and began browsing through my images.

This is the one that called to me, and so I posted it, thinking all the while, "what on earth am I going to say about THIS one?"

Well, duh! Off the top of my head I can't think of anything (it is morning after all, and the coffee hasn't kicked in yet) that says MORE about change than shifting sands! We know the sand stays -- that it remains the same -- and yet the shape we see is shifting all the time (say that sentence three times fast, I dare you).

Isn't that a perfect symbol of our own existence? Our own lives are changing all the time -- our own SHAPES are changing all the time -- and yet even Einstein tells us that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Something in all this is constant. But because we have trouble accepting that, we get caught up in the shape of things and cling to what appears to exist rather than simply saying yes to existence.

"The opposite of yes," says Richo, "is not no; it is control. Behind that controlling impulse is fear, the fear that we will have to feel something painful.... We can learn to accept the fact that we are sometimes helpless to stop an unwelcome change in our lives. That acceptance, paradoxically, ushers in serenity."

"Worry," he goes on to say, "is directly related to control. It seems that we worry about the future, finances, relationships, jobs, and all the other unpredictables in our lives. Actually, there is only one worry: that of not being in full control of what will happen." And then he says something that really resonates with me: "We worry because we do not trust ourselves to handle what happens to us...We do not control because we are selfish or demanding. We control because we are afraid of grief."

I know. It seems perfectly obvious. But for some reason I find it helps enormously to get and keep that perspective when the worrying begins; to remind myself that the worrying is really because I don't quite trust that I'll be able to deal with whatever comes. For some reason, understanding that enables me to step past the worry, and returns my focus away from the future and back to the moment at hand.

Once I am back, centered in the here and now, it makes it easier to remember this affirmation Richo offers:

"As of now, I affirm that I am able to handle whatever may happen for the rest of my life. I have handled so much so far, I know I will be able to face whatever is left. And if I need reinforcements, I will find them. Nothing will turn my life so upside down that I will collapse under it."

We are, each of us, so much stronger than we know. Yes, the tides will come; yes, the shape of things as we know them will change. But there is that within us that will not change, that is steady, strong and grounded.

And as I look at this image, I see that it contains within it a figure, reaching toward the blue with arms outstretched as if to welcome the next rush of tide. I can't say I'm there yet. But it does give me something to work toward.


altar ego said...

I love what you say here, and oh, how I need to hear/read it this morning! And wouldn't you know that I just got off the phone with an old friend and we were laughing about the "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" line (both of us enduring some strengthening these days), so the notion of strength and endurance at the core, to "hold the place" around which the shifting takes places is important to remember.

And, you can watch Project Runway online! Not sure if it's on hulu (which I just tried and love), but it is on

Maureen said...

I enjoyed this post very much, Diane.

My husband and I were talking the other night and he said he was "concerned but not worried...." I asked him to describe what difference he meant those two words to have. He said to be worried was to be unable to do anything about something troublesome. I'll share with him what you quote from Ricoh.

The sentence, "We control because we are afraid of grief.", offers much to ponder.

The figure in the image looks to me as though she's diving in, diving into life with eyes and heart open, and just in time.

Diane Walker said...

Good to know (re Project Runway!)

Thanks Maureen (seems like I want to thank you every day!) for seeing the diving in aspect of this...

KimP said...

I'm thinking I need to get this book; your last three posts are hitting me right where I live. I'm in a mood of discouragement the last couple of weeks - railing against nothing ever changing, resenting change when it does occur, and not seeing the purpose of keeping the channel open. Thanks for writing about this book - I'll check it out!

Dianna Woolley said...

I agree with KimP - Ricoh's book is now on my list.....I'm learning not to buy books before they get close to the top of the "want to read" list, but this one sounds terrific!