I got a new phone yesterday. Actually, John got it for me. I never would’ve bought a new phone until the old one was broken. And I really couldn’t care less about the type of phone, as long as I have it for an emergency.
This new phone is a far cry from my old flip phone, and I have a lot to learn to be able to use it. I think I may even have to read the manual. Setting it up and trying to use it frustrated me within minutes! I am not incapable of learning something new, but I think I was being resistant to this change that was thrust upon me.
Yes, I said thrust! Let me say, that I may not have accepted it as graciously as I should have. It may not have been received in the spirit it was given- as the loving, thoughtful gift it was, but more as a nuisance, or an imposition. And I wasn’t quite sure why. Maybe it was the change? It was a very small change, but a change nonetheless. So while I was trying to figure out how the hell to send a text message, and getting more and more aggravated for no real reason, I started to think about changes.
I like to think that I’m a person who embraces change. Maybe embraces isn’t really the right word. Accepts it. Understands it. Knows that it is always happening. That there is nothing we can do to stop it or avoid it. In order to live a calm, peaceful life, I know I have to go with the flow, and move along with the change.
Sometimes, our minds don’t move along with it. Our thoughts trick us into believing we might be able to stop the change, or avoid it, or ignore it. So we resist it, and we fight it. I think those are the times in life that we get the most frustrated, or the most disappointed. Those are the times we are the least content. When we are resisting, or fighting against the flow of things.
I am currently surrounded by people who are going through huge changes in their lives; some by choice, and some not. Some have recently decided to make career moves, and are looking forward to bigger and better. Some are expecting babies and anxiously awaiting the change that will come along after the birth. Some are in foreclosure, suffering huge financial losses and attempting to regain control. Some are going through divorces and custody battles, hoping that things will work out in their favor. Some are dealing with illness and disease and treatments; at a point where their bodies have changed, and seem to be betraying them. Some are coping with grief, after the death of a loved one, wondering how they can go on now without this person in their life.
And, things are changing for me as well. Yesterday was my last day at my job. I wasn’t upset at all about leaving. It’s not because I hated it. It was actually a great job-, no stress, I made my own hours, worked from home (Why did I quit again!?) It was just time for a change.
I remember when I left my corporate job, almost ten years ago. I had decided that it was time to be a stay-at-home mom. When I went in to tell my boss that I was leaving, I cried. I had never ever cried at work. I was so sad to leave that job. I was a little afraid of the change that was coming. I was also scared that we were going to be poor. Some of those same thoughts have come up for me now, but I have simply acknowledged them, and then dismissed them.
I think it is easy for me to leave this job because I was never attached to it. My other job was much harder to leave because I allowed it to define me. I was a National Manager, a young, female, American Manager in a male dominated Japanese company. I was pretty good at my job. I had a great team of people. I analyzed data. I made decisions. When I met someone and they asked me to tell them about myself, I proudly told them about my job. It was who I was. It was a big part of my identity.
When you identify yourself with something, or someone, you become attached to it, or them. You believe that the thing, the job, the person, the idea, belongs to you and is a part of who you are. And when you are attached, it is difficult to let go. If you are attached to a job and you get fired, you are upset. If you are attached to a person and they die, your grief can be overwhelming. Attachment to an idea or a belief can cause disagreements, arguments, prejudices, even wars.
How do we know if we are attached to something? I think the answer is: If we are afraid to lose it. If letting it go seems unimaginable. So what are you afraid of losing? Your job title? A loved one? Your composure? Your confidence? Your addiction? Your faith? What are you holding on to?
We hold on to the people and things and ideas we are attached to as if our lives depend on them, as if we can’t exist without them, as if we ARE them. When people say things like I am a VP, I am a wife and mother, I am a conservative, I am a Buddhist, the statements make it seem as if those things are unchangeable. They are not. Some day that person may be retired, widowed, lose a child, change their opinions or beliefs.
As human beings we are changing every moment of every day—cells are dying off, new ones are being formed- our bodies are never exactly the same as they were the day before. Why would we think our minds should be? Or our lives should be? Or the things and people around us should be?
Why are we still surprised by changes around us? Good changes or bad changes, it doesn’t matter. Any change is still a change, and accepting them is not easy for a lot of people. Why is it easier to sit where you are and be just as you are, than to move on to something new? Underneath it all, what is that holds people back? What gets us stuck?
I think we have to realize that who we are is not any of the things we are attached to; not the things we do, or the things that happen to us, not the house we live in, the car we drive, the career we pursue, the ideas we have, the beliefs we have, or even the people we love. Who we are is something else entirely; it is our essence, our spirit. And that one thing can remain constant no matter what changes come or way.
Surely, I have been Me since the day I was born, but I am not the same as I was that day.
I guess the new iPhone is just a symbol of change for me, of progress. I wasn’t attached to my old phone. It really was an outdated piece of junk. So why the resistance? Maybe it’s just because I like to live simply, and an iPhone is not a necessity. But this one only cost 99 cents so I have no financial argument.
Maybe, I was attached to the idea that I am not one of “those people” that has an iPhone. Just like I am attached to the idea that I’m not one of “those people” who reads a Kindle because I love books. I don’t think that it’s nostalgia. I don’t think that I am really trying to hold on to the past.
But maybe I am trying to keep things from moving too fast. Because each new thing just continues to propel us forward, pointing us in the direction of the next thing. And at the end of it all is the loss of this one thing that I remain attached to more than anything else, this life.
So perhaps each little change subconsciously reminds me that nothing is permanent. This too shall pass…the bad stuff and the good stuff shall pass.
And that is both wonderful and scary as hell. And I will have to deal with it as it changes every day. And there is no App for that.