The Buddhist have an essential mantra: “Everything changes.” And how.
I’ve been reflecting on the concept and reality of change quite a bit lately, as I prepare for Circles, cope with my oldest off at college, witness my parents aging (finally!), and plan how to ritualize my upcoming 50th birthday. I find myself peeling back the decades, and with each one, considering how much has changed and how much I have changed.
Celebrating my last big birthday (4-0), I hadn’t yet lost my baby fat or dreamt up Circles. I hadn’t yet caught up on sleep, had no time or energy to read, and no taste for coffee. Today, I can’t imagine life without books, sleep, or lattes! In fact, at 40, I had just gotten all three kids out of diapers, sleeping through the night, and into school. At the time, it seemed like a triathlon! For the first time in years, I had a wee bit of time to myself. I was celebrated with surprises: Jim woke me up that morning at 8 AM with a “bagel and bagpipe” party in our backyard, and my gal pals picked me up that night in a stretch limo so we could dine in style downtown. Since then, I have read more than 100 books, held 450 Circles, and (mostly) sleep through the night.
Flashing back another decade to 1995, I hadn’t yet become a mother. With so much of who I am connected to being a parent of my trio of teens now, my life before becoming a mother is nearly unfathomable. (What did I worry about all day long?) Mama Bear was hibernating while I billed thousands of hours practicing law. Turn the calendar back again, I find myself in 1985, stretching my wings 1000 miles away from home at Holy Cross College in Worcester Massachusetts, where I was busy studying, socializing and typing papers on my IBM Correcting Selectric, to earn money for concerts, clothes and keg beer. I no longer own a typewriter, rarely go to concerts (they are too loud!), and don’t like keg beer any more. Everything changes.
One of my teens recently asked me whether there is anything about me now that is the same as when I was a child. Very little, I said. (And now, even my weight has changed for the first time in decades.) At 10 years old, in 1975, I spent my days mostly outside riding horses, cutting grass, playing pretend games with siblings and cousins, and dreaming of becoming lawyer, mother and wife. I hadn’t yet stepped onto the moving sidewalk of life, had very few concerns, and… no idea how much my life would expand.
Very little of who I have been fits anymore. To some from my past, I am nearly unrecognizable. The only constant, it turns out, is change. And so my challenge continues to be expanding my mind, body and soul. My daily mindfulness practice keeps me in the present moment, letting everything be as it is. How wild to think I have absolutely no idea what changes are to come in the next decade. And… I can’t wait to find out! Bring it on! and Let it be! Everything changes; most of all, me.
Cheryl Strayed in Wild “How wild it was, to let it be.”