Guest Blog by Sara Mahon: "To My Good Friend, Change"
“Everything changes. Our body changes. Our ideas change and so do our moods, or the moods of the people we are close to. Our love and our friendships change. Our finances and our life plans change. The political situation changes. Fashion and the weather change. Even change itself changes.” -Piero Ferrucci, The Power of Kindness (p. 200)
I find change to be a rather hard thing to face. Adaptability has never been a strong suit of mine. I thrive off routine and knowing the unknown. I thrive off knowing exactly what is going to happen at school and at home, otherwise how would I be able to handle it on my own?
This might not be the first time that change has occurred and left me shell-shocked and extremely on edge, but it has been one of the hardest. My relationship with my partner was the only serious one I have ever had, and I had never experienced heartbreak until we broke up two months ago.
For me, letting go is about surrendering my control of the unfamiliar. It amazes me how challenging this is, time and time again, and how it does not seem to get easier. As I feel my feelings and come to accept them, I know that I am capable of moving through this and moving forward. Right now, going through my first abrupt intimate relationship termination, it feels all so new, scary and difficult for me.
But I am practicing to embrace my feelings. Sometimes, they are intense and deep, and other times they are lighter and more optimistic. I am in the process of finding an apartment, which is another big change. I know that when I move, I will feel the pain of change all over again. I will know it is you, change, that has found me once again and it is you that will never leave my side.
Ferrucci dedicates a whole chapter of his book, The Power of Kindness, to flexibility and change, and he goes on to say, in, “Adapting to the present reality means accepting frustrations.” Right now in the present, I am furious. I am depressed. I am relieved. I am annoyed. I am disgusted. I am hopeful. I am not sure how much I have accepted the negative emotions fully yet, but I acknowledge they are present.
The precariousness of life is astounding. We do not know what is going to happen. When we learn to adapt and become more flexible, we will not ruminate as much and will learn to let go. This is something I am working on doing every day. Adapting to change and flexibility can make us kinder and more compassionate. It helps us come to terms with the fact that we cannot control every single thing going on in the world or in our lives, and all we can do is act in ways that are true to ourselves. Accepting that the world is constantly moving is important to start to fully live a life where unexpected events always happen. Instead of resorting to fear, we can move from a place of love and understanding.
Zen master, Thich Nhat Hahn, has much to say on letting go. He remarks, “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” I believe that. I hold on to things for a long time, ruminate, and hope that things will go back to the way they were. But if I can remember that letting things go is the way to freedom, I feel much more happy about the fact that things are always leaving my life. This paves the way for present moment happiness right here and now.
There is freedom in knowing that I can create my own abundance of happiness now, and that one thing does not need to determine my emotional state or future. Mindfulness helps bring me back to the present freedom and to remember this awareness, even when life’s uncertainties are ever prevalent.
“[Change] implies freedom from attachments, wakefulness in the present, acceptance of what is. Changes in our life can be unpleasant, even frightful: the people we love may not love us as before: our processional competence is failing; our body is weakening; our products are no longer selling as they used to; friends who used to give us warmth and support have forgotten us, the activities that once excited us now seem boring and empty.” -Piero Ferruci, The Power of Kindness (p. 204)
This is you, change. You make movement and meaning in our lives. To know you is to know that we have to pursue the things that make us come alive in our life and to appreciate our time and connection on this earth.
With Gratitude and Reservation, Sara Mahon