When she arrives there is something that happens in you that can only be described as mystical. It happens in the part of you that catalogs and attends all of the other parts of you… that part of you that is more than reason, but uses reason to know. It is that part that knows, but is more than knowledge. And it becomes something that you are now clearly “aware” of. It becomes important. And with this attention to it, you are changed.
A thousand little parts of you line up to attend to this change. Some are physiological, perhaps your adrenalin races or the tears flow. Some are action oriented and you clean things or call others, “can they come?” or “can you help in some way?”
Drive. It is a word often associated with people that have changed. They are called “driven” because they have a realigned understanding of needs and actions and results. There are other action words too, though. Change can “do” things to you. We use these action words to describe either the current state or how we got here. Concussed, deflated, demoralized and a thousand other phrases to denote the place in our lives or the state of current being. “And that is when my hair turned gray”, or “I remember what I was doing when Kennedy was shot”. Or when the sheriff handed me the judgment, or when the news of a friend that died or got divorced… Mile markers on this road we travel called life. It seems some are on the road less traveled by, the things called misery, and some are seemingly in a state of constant construction and delayed joys.
Some are places around a corner and we are surprised when we get there. Like a construction crew on a mountain road clearing rocks that fell, they make you stop for a while, because the option of an alternate route is not an option… so you wait. At times the surprises are the washed out bridge and there is no option but to retrace your path and go around. Perhaps it is a vista that was unexpected on the way to someplace else. Like holding the grandchild for the first time, the wave of emotion as you look into the eyes of another little human that was only moments ago not here… unexplainable change. They told you she was coming, but not how you would be altered.
Change comes, and is. It is a state of current being and pending action. On you or by you, it is and is coming. But here is a curious thing, that you are an agent of change to others. The card you write. The job you do. The little act of kindness, or one not done. It is like a magnetic wave that is unseen but for the way it affects. The tool you didn’t put away when you were a child and your dad couldn’t find it. The act of casual indifference that ended in an incomplete result that allowed the thing to fall out of the truck on the last move… lots of little things, some called memories and stories. They are part and parcel to a life lived. Some are large and we stand agape at their telling. Others are little tales of a shrunken soul that withered in the presence of a staggering blow. We wonder what it could be that does that to us or who motivated the other to greatness, and will my small words be that thing that turns the magnet, to make a little bit of difference.
The interesting part to me on this is the emphasis on change is the result of ignoring the first part. The part of Important. It would not be change that is noted if it wasn’t important. Love broken is only of value, and by that amount of, that you considered it important. Lots of people die every day, and some tragically. But when it is your friend or family member that mattered greatly, the loss of that one is staggering. If you like words perhaps it would “the news was stultifying.” Numbing, simply by the power of it… On the one hand it meant that they meant a lot. On the other, their absence will be like a black hole that draws all light into it.
Important is a curious thing. The items in your car, desk or pocket that someone else will clean up when you have passed unexpectedly. How did you end up with this list of things? Or the choices to go or not, to do or not… and how did we come to them. The place we live or leave. The hundreds of choices to ponder and somehow I ended up here? There is a book by Dr. Seuss that a lot of graduates get that I think should be given much sooner in life, called “Oh, the places you will go”. It is a book you should read again, to a child if you need an excuse, but read it. It is a story of a life and the journey of it. Highs and lows, adventure and sorrows. The point is that all of those choices are a result of what you have determined as important. The choices may be hard or ponderous, but in that is also the weight of the not choosing. It is also the awareness that not choosing is actually a choice.
When you were 3 the choices are seemingly large to you, and sometimes adults made choices for you that you didn’t like. When you got to middle age the situations didn’t seem to have changed as much as you had hoped. As an aged and more in-firmed person, they revert back to the beginning, just that others are the deciders not your parents. When you are 3 and your mom says, “do you want red jammies or blue jammies?” you think you are getting to choose, and you are. What you fail to realize is that the real choice has already been made. You are headed to bed… For some, it is a time of wonder and snuggles and stories and looking at the glow-in-the dark stars on the ceiling. Good and deep and warm memories. When you are 7 you think it is a tragedy because “the other kids in your class don’t have to go to bed now…” because of course, staying up means you are cool and will be liked by them. When you are 40 and still wanting others to like you for the things you do, you might need some therapy. Perhaps the affirmation of others, or that one, is more important than you thought?
The point is that important changes means two things. What we consider important changes. And, change is important. When we watch others and see the signs of a midlife crisis we should be attentive to it. The sudden change of behavior or attire in your 13 year old should be a clue… if it is important. Important is adjustable in fast ways and in ways that take time. The sudden news of a death adjusts your travel and schedule dramatically. Realizing the shallow and banal tripe your friends spew is a lengthier path. Perhaps the importance of the death reveals the shallow of the friends, and the path to get new ones is a real journey. But if it is important, you will change.
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