Why You Need to Remain Flexible in a Time of Great Change
PHIL: The threefold crises of the pandemic, democratic collapse and global warming feel unprecedented, yet there were also earlier periods when people felt their world was irretrievably upended. From a diary of the time: “There’s no word I can start off with to give the mood of these ghastly days and nights of bombs on London.” Think of a medieval village visited by the plague, or present-day refugees.
When such upheavals occur, we need to accept the present circumstance and not yearn for something that no longer exists. The sooner we can let go of our expectations of how things should be, the sooner we can respond fully to what is present.
Yet our attachment to the past pulls strongly at us. Of course we are affected by loss, whether a way of life, a lover, a pet, or maybe more than anything, a child. A blunt knife has carved into us, and the blood may drip day and night for months. It takes time to scab over and turn into scars.
But alongside loss are other things. It is an ideal time to explore our sense of self. Loss can be treated as an exercise in attachment, and that is a very powerful tool to use in finding our core. What do we want? Are we the same as our desires? A sitting meditation is good at recognizing that we are not the same as the feelings that emerge.
Besides ourselves, we can also look at what has not changed in our lives; that might be birdsong, coffee, friends or books. Need I point out the power of gratitude?
And lastly, change brings new things, new ideas, new experiences. Who would have used Zoom to connect with old friends in distant places? When Maude and I first met, we knew our sexual connection would be (and has been) challenged by illness and changing circumstances, but that we could adapt to them. And we have.
To avoid being thrown off by such changes, be flexible. Accept the new normal. Greet nostalgia like a pleasant dream.The need for flexibility is critical in a rapidly changing world #quote #relationships Click To Tweet
MAUDE: Phil and I (like most of you) have been fielding what seems like a flood of events and challenges to our everyday existence. I’ve been ill, hospitalized and facing a somewhat invasive procedure. We have had a tenant move out leaving the apartment needing a total remake and the need to rent quickly before the holidays are upon us. We’ve faced an infection which has altered our patterns of intimacy. A dear friend has passed leaving the need for time and energy to settle his affairs lovingly. Two of his friends had to put almost everything else in their very busy lives on hold to process his estate. All of this was sudden, unexpected and unplanned for.
Concurrently, Delta is rising and raging around us. Every interaction has to be evaluated in terms of risk and appropriate behavior. Phil had bought us tickets to the Jackson Browne concert at the Santa Barbara County Bowl on Labor Day weekend. It was to be a surprise birthday present for me. Unfortunately, even though they were checking for proof of vaccinations or negative tests, since I am going in for a procedure, being among 4000+ people no longer seemed wise. I’m having the procedure on my birthday instead.
Out in the world, fires and floods are letting us know unequivocally that climate change is upon us. If we can’t find a way to come together in action, and find agreement in this much divided world in turmoil, we will have lost our window to change the course of this path of destruction. As I write this, two feet of rain is bearing down on Texas and there have been floods all over the world from Haiphong city to the Dominican Republic, fires are raging in the Pacific Northwest, and there have been super typhoons and landslides all over the world in much greater quantity and rapid succession than ever before.
The need for flexibility and a method of responding to change without being blown over by it has become critical in a number of areas; our inner being, our relationships and our interactions with the world.
Although this is a challenge indeed, it is also a great opportunity. This can be a strong motivation to find that core within yourself and your relationships. Your attitude in the face of change can be like a tree that leans and sways with the wind, remaining flexible and vibrant yet rooted at its core. When we find that root within ourselves and at the center of our relationships, that unchanging truth that is there even in the face of dramatic change, we can flow with what is, instead of striving to make it what we wanted or expected. The struggle to deny what is happening saps us of so much energy, and this is the very energy that we need to find the best possible way to move forward.
Do not fight the unexpected occurrences, as this will do nothing to change them. Search for that strength and peace within you and your relationships. It will provide the platform to find the needed flexibility and resilience these times require.
Photo credit: Temogen Amato
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