Being born had to have been a highly unpleasant experience. We’ve all gone through it, we just don’t remember it. But I’ve seen the photos and the whole thing looks pretty miserable. Most of us were shoved forcibly from a warm, muffled cocoon into a cold, antiseptic (and, egad, fluorescently lit!) hospital room, greeted by a spanking. A spanking! Well, nice to meet you, too, Doc! And ever since that first indignant and terrified gulp of air, most of us have continued kicking and screaming our way through life’s many changes.
As children, our lives change dramatically on a daily basis. Think about it: one day, tired of just crawling on the floor, we are able to start walking! Surely our infant psyches are puzzled when, unannounced and uninvited, teeth begin to painfully assert themselves in our little mouths.
Later, those very same teeth begin to loosen and fall out without warning. We learn to read, to write, to navigate the long hallways of our elementary school. And just when all of that starts to feel like old hat, we’re thrust into the hell of junior high and the chaos of adolescence.
Growth is a by-product of drastic changes in our minds, bodies, and surroundings. From the moment we are born, we’re in a constant state of becoming. But somewhere along the way, we kind of lose the plot. Our minds, bodies, and surroundings don’t stop changing as we get older, yet in adulthood, most of us tend to react to change like this:
There’s something to be said for revisiting our childhood relationship to change. As children, surrender to change wasn’t so much a choice as it was a state of being. We just kind of muscled through transitions, knowing instinctively that what we were going through was just a phase.
Maybe what really scares us is the knowledge that life itself is just a phase. When loved ones move away, when we have to upgrade our reading glasses to a stronger prescription, when we outgrow a friendship, when our favorite restaurant closes, we’re reminded that everything–even we–must come to an end.
Yet this selfsame awareness of impermanence is exactly what imparts sweetness to our lives. Instead of resisting the inexorable mutability of life, we have the choice to remain curious. We can remind ourselves that, however painful it may be, change provides us with an opportunity to become wiser, kinder, and funnier.
And when all else fails, we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we never have to go through junior high again.