November 17, 2015

The Humanity of Change


It's hard to believe I took a nine day break without posting, but I guess the great irony of life is that sometimes when the most important things are happening to you, you have the least time to reflect on them

If there's one thing I've always felt self-conscious about, it's my relationship to change. I've explored it over and over again in my writing, and new material is constantly regenerating itself, so it's something I keep coming back to.

It's the nature of the world to change -- this very principle explains why we have daily newspapers, Facebook, and fashion magazines. We're always hungry for novelty, but when life throws real alternations at us, many of us feel the instinct to reject it -- or run from it.

A couple I've known for a long time welcomed a baby into the world this week. (Talk about a life-changing event!) Obviously this occurrence has nothing to do with me, but of course when you witness something like this in another person's life, you momentarily imagine life through their eyes. For these two, immediate changes will obviously center around sleep schedules, baby-proof architectural choices, and new general anxieties about protecting their loved one. But deeper changes -- like discovering how to live their lives for a third soul -- are of course in store as well, and they will require continual adjustments, albeit for a happy cause.

Comparing changes in my own life to something this monumental will likely sound trivial, but we all know life is relative. Whether we're planning a wedding, applying to college, or gearing up to go to space, this circumstance will take top priority in our own brain and become THE MOST IMPORTANT THING for the time being.

This week I received some difficult news, which I won't get any more specific about for the purpose of protecting those involved. It came in the midst of a frustrating day in at the end of an already trying week, and it reduced me to a fetal-bound, mascara-streaked, blanket-covered ball for the better half a Christmas playlist. (Really, there was no remedy at the end of a week like this but some fluffy, premature holiday music.) Worse, the uncertainty this news brought on spider-webbed itself into every other area of my life: Was I really cut out for the job I'd just started? Were J and I in a good place? Was I fooling myself with this acting thing? Would I ever learn to cook a balanced meal?

Up until then, I thought the grand changes of my new life in New York were settled -- jobs found, rent paid, subway learned, friends met -- but of course no finale (hell, no scene change) is ever quite so predictable. As Lena Dunham accurately summarizes, "The end never comes when you think it will. It's always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left." Even something as seemingly simple as being an adult requires constant reevaluation and fine-tuning.

And then of course the saddest and greatest change of all last week came across the news: 129 people killed across Paris at the madness of another terrorist agenda. As of today, the world is still in shock, and we're only just turning our attention to the other victims involved. There is no telling how the world is supposed to recover from something like this, because it is simply not how our world is supposed to function.

But here is what I've come to realize about change, as good as bringing babies into the world, as bad as bad news, or as globally tragic Friday's attacks: it is change that makes us human. Or, perhaps, it is change that reveals our humanity. If our world remained as predictable as we all sometimes wish it would, there would be no reason to look beyond ourselves and our day-to-day concerns. The homeless plea that interrupts our daily commute and causes us to question how much money we might actually spare, the new coworker who impels us to defend our ideas, the child who suddenly asks us "why"... these shifts give us permission to live outside our heads, to interact, to evolve, and to bring our hearts to the surface.

Welcome or not, change creates us.

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