Change: Part Two
June 19, 2014
“We are not the same person this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” ~ William Somerset Maugham
Isn’t this a beautiful quote? I saw it on someone’s Facebook page and was immediately drawn to it. I suspect I like it for many reasons, but the reason I want to write about today is this: at the core of many relationship problems are issues related to change, specifically fear of change, the inability to change, and the desire to keep those we love from changing.
Last week I wrote about our natural tendency to seek homeostasis. We want things to stay the same. But they can’t. And they won’t. The most spiritually, psychologically, and cognitively mature people know this, and they notice and embrace change as a normal and healthy thing. They have what is known in Zen Buddhism as a “beginner’s mind”. It is a mind of curiosity, not making assumptions about anything or anyone until there is an encounter with it. They are not afraid of change in themselves, others, and even in their environment and circumstances.
In long term relationships of any kind (friendship, marriage, family, community) it is wise to remember that nothing remains the same. At an intimate dinner party recently, a man said, “ I think I love this marriage even more than I did my last marriage.” He was talking about the same woman, his one wife of forty years, but he was acknowledging that she had changed and that he had changed along with her. Together they were more beautiful, more dynamic, and more loving than they had ever been. He was exemplifying exactly what the quote at the top of this page says. He and his wife have both been willing to change.
Sometimes a client in my office offers up what I have come to call the Popeye defense. When asked to consider making a change, what I’m told is “I am who I am”. In Popeye’s dialect it was “ I Yam who I Yam, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!” But Popeye was a cartoon character, not a living human being. Is it possible that we are more than what we think we are? More than “I am who I am?” Is it possible that there is more potential, more flexibility, more resourcefulness, more skills, more talent, more creativity, more capacity, more ————–(put your own word in there) than you thought there might be?
Each day of spring brings changes. Some inch of my yard is different everyday: a new bud, a new sprout, a dead branch, a new visitor. Could we all welcome our own changes and the changes of those we love as easily as we welcome the changes of the new season?