Being comfortable is a wonderful thing. We value comfort, in our homes, our cars, our clothes (especially our shoes), our communities, our relationships, our jobs. We get angry and resentful when things upset our apple-cart of comfort. It is much too easy to become complacent in our lives. Everything’s smooth, everything’s normal, no disruptions to ruin our day, our week, our lifetime. And we like it that way.
I had a boss who once accused me of being averse to change. I told him I had no problem with change, as long as it made sense. Changing work procedures for the sake of change, rather than to make things more efficient or profitable, made no sense to me. He did not like my response. But having worked in the same field for 25 years, I had a pretty good idea of where his change was going to put us 6 months down the line…and it did…and it wasn’t productive, efficient or profitable.
Those who know me best never know what to expect of me next. They often refer to me as a renaissance woman. Sometimes people ask me how I could possibly do all the things I have done in the last 20 years. I admit, it’s not always comfortable to put yourself out there or try new things. When my first book was published, a friend asked me how I found the time to write a book with work and home and kids. She said that work and home and kids were all she had time for, so she had no other interests. She had no idea what she would do with her time if she ever lost her job. My response was that there were not enough hours or days left in my lifetime for all the things I would try if I had that extra 40 hours a week in which to do them.
The fact of the matter is, without change, we wilt. Change is as necessary to a full life as water and sun are to growing plants. Everyone needs to change and grow, to learn and think, to read and imagine. Without these things, we may be comfortable, but we are not taking advantage of all the creative gifts we’ve been given. When you expand your universe, you expand yourself. It may not be a comfortable expansion, but in the end, you will be better off than you were when it started.
Then there is involuntary change. When your universe thinks you need a boot in the butt, something inevitably happens that you don’t like. You get angry and resentful and feel that you’ve been dealt a harsh blow. And it’s true. But if you wallow in those feelings of anger and self-pity, you don’t allow yourself to grow...you don’t allow yourself to think clearly and come up with a plan for handling the change that was thrust on you. You can either say “Woe is me” or you can take stock of your life and make some voluntary changes of your own. Chances are you were way past due in kicking up some dust in your comfortable life.
I know a lot of people right now, myself included, are on the receiving end of that kind of involuntary change. It’s about as far from comfortable as you can get. It feels as if all the security you’ve had for these many years has been ripped away from you. How we react to that change will define our lives for months and perhaps years to come.
I thought to myself, for the first time in my life (and for a few short seconds), Mom never had this problem. Dad worked and Mom stayed home and kept the house and kids in order. She never complained and she did everything she did the very best she could because she was doing it for those she loved. Dad brought home the money and all was well with the world. Then I just shook my head. I am not my mother. I need to be out there working, doing old things, trying new things, meeting new people, writing new stories and singing new songs.
I’m not too old to change. I’m not too old to realize the value of not getting complacent or comfortable, in my life or in my job. And I’m a firm believer that all things happen together for good. Even when something seems bad or hopeless at the moment, there is a greater, far-reaching purpose. And I, for one, am willing to find out what that is!