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On Board with Change

‘Change’ presents such a challenge for many of us. While we are grounded in and hold on to routine and familiarity, everything living is wired to unfold, grow and adapt over time. So, it’s ironic that the most consistent, constant and universal dynamic in our universe is change.

Yet few people are inclined to accept change happily. Indeed, in psychology circles, change is considered to be a major source of stress. Indeed, we are now facing such sweeping change, along with uncertainty of the future, that our existence on every level - home/family, community, nation and the world - is laced with stress and change. Even ‘good’ change is stressful. It’s part of our cellular dynamics.

I’m lucky since I’ve chosen a life where change has been a central theme. My way of life has embraced various careers (various, from head hunter to city Counsellor-at-large), significant travel (Europe, Northwest Territories and Eastern Canada, Mexico, Hawaii and all over the U.S.), moving to various places (Austria, all over Alberta incl. Ft. McMurray, West Coast Canada) and finding (and treasuring) a host of relationships along the way. The culmination of these experiences has conditioned me to accept most change without too much hoopla. Don’t get me wrong. I still struggle with harsh circumstances, like everyone else, as they present themselves. Yet my processing time tends to be relatively short before I surrender to what is and go from there.

On the other hand, many people (dare I say most?) have a hard time adapting to the inevitable change that is the natural order of things. I know a man who absolutely abhors change of any kind. He surrounds himself with antiques and reverts to an atavistic kind of lifestyle. I have long suspected that he is a man who may have been born out of his time. For him, it’s literal and metaphorical at the same time.

What this looks like, for example, is a very creative and laborious method of doing laundry. The all but simple chore starts with pumping water out of a well with a lever hand pump. This is the old fashioned kind that takes a pioneer’s arm to wield it. A makeshift trough channels the water into an old bucket where it is then hauled into the one modern thing on site (electric stove) to heat in an old, oval galvanized steel tub. (I remember bathing in such a tub when we first came to Canada in 1956. We were very poor and had no bathroom.) While the water is heating on the stove, the round and shorter pre-wash tub (also galvanized steel) sits in the backyard and contains clothing left to soak. These articles are agitated with a sink plunger. Next, a wringer washer, with 1912 stamped in bold relief on the tank-like wringer housing - built to last, stands obstinately in the driveway/backyard beside the pre-wash tub. On top of little steel wheels, the old beast is perched upon legs made of the same indestructible steel. Its body sports three modest, yet functional bands of steel, then cardboard, then steel at the top. The inside of the tub is more galvanized steel with an ancient agitator in the centre. Jeans from the pre-soak tub have a hard time going through the age-cracked wringer rollers. The heated water in the large oval tub needs to be hauled, with a lot of brute strength, from the kitchen to the back yard where it is emptied into the juggernaut washer. It looks like the clothes are tweaked rather than agitated by the totally overloaded agitator. When some time has passed, the soiled wash-water is released onto the ground by means of a small hole with a modest rubber stopper in the bottom of the washer. The hot water -wringer-agitator-flush system is then repeated for the rinse cycle. From there, the tortured clothes find their way to the clothes line.

Now, while I can admire the ingenuity, determination and effort that this rigmarole takes, I also see a problem. I wonder about hanging onto a system so antiquated that it takes all day and an enormous amount of strength to do a simple chore. It takes energy to hold onto the old (yet familiar) long after its time has passed. I feel exhausted just writing about it.

When I take a step back from this type of ‘stuck’ dance, I notice lots of people doing the same thing as they cling to their familiar, yet untenable circumstances. People hold onto their misery like it’s a right – almost a hard-won prize. In the meantime, it’s not working for them at all. Yet it’s what they know. It’s somehow more palatable to do that than change. Change means the scary unknown. Yet a new horizon and all the healthy possibilities that lie ahead awaits the risk-taker.

I believe that the universe is perpetually expanding. Nothing stands still for long. If you stop moving, you’re out of the game in short order. Evolution, i.e. change, is the natural order of things. Resisting the inevitability of change just makes the process more difficult and painful. So you can get on board and be part of that exciting horizon or you can get lost in a stagnant, irrelevant past and be left behind. It’s your choice. 


Master Practitioner in Clinical Counselling

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Red Deer, Alberta

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