I was thinking about how much is changing, how it currently feels like I, and my family also, are in this period of transition. It feels like a lot is happening right now:
- Maggie graduated high school, and is off to Finland for a year of student exchange where she’s basically taking a fifth year of high school in Finnish and living with a wonderful family, immersing herself in a foreign culture on the other side of the globe. I’m really proud of her. You can follow her exploits at her website!
- We decided the house would be too quiet with only one kid, so we agreed to have an exchange student live with us for a year! Tommaso is from Italy, and living with us now through next summer, going to school as a senior at Chelsea high. It’s a fun transition and experience for all of us. You can check out his blog where he chronicles his exploits here…. If you read Italian!
- Max is in the process of getting his driver’s license, and will be a junior this year. We’ve begun talks about his desire to do a student exchange program of some kind, and what happens after high school!
- On Sunday we closed our 10th Season at Williamston Theatre. We’e begun work on our second decade already, and rehearsals for the first show of next season start this Tuesday.
So, Jeanne and I were discussing how, in about two years, we could be officially “empty-nesters”! That’s another chapter that came up faster than I expected! Still, as I was thinking about how much change is currently underway, I also started thinking about how funny it is that we call it “change” or “a period of transition”, and act like it is something that only happens once in a while.
The fact is, life IS change. My kids were never the same people from one year to the next. Their goals, personalities, likes and dislikes hobbies and habits – all these things are in flux all the time. Our family schedule, our work schedules, all of those change regularly. I mean, sure, I now have a tendency to categorize things in my life based on whether it happened before, during, or after my coma (The Before, the Dark Time, and The Now, as we jokingly call it!). Still, I think that’s because even though life is CONSTANTLY changing, we tend to try and make sense of it by labeling the things that seem like the biggest, or most dramatic changes. Then we can celebrate them, have a communal sense of understanding and compassion with each other about all of the shared changes that most of us go through: births, deaths, graduations, marriages, things that many of our peers share.
I think that tendency to categorize the big things in our lives is natural, but I also wonder if it stops us from realizing that ALL of it is changing, all the time. This feeling of “normalcy” or “a routine” that we seem to want, or pretend to want, is something that I think we’ve created to fill the gaps between the big changes we wait for (or long for), but I wonder:
Does this idea of a “normalcy” between Big Changes cause us to minimize the importance of all of that life and change that happens in that time? Do we lose sight of the beauty and wonder of our lives because we are waiting for Change with a capital C? Do we forget that we owe it to ourselves, and our world, to live fully and embrace all the “stuff” that happens every day, and that EVERY DAY is when we should be shaping our lives and the world around us?
Maybe. Maybe we just need that reminder that NOW is what we have. The more I remind myself that THIS RIGHT NOW is what I can be sure of, the more I want to explore and experience and help and cherish the world and people around me, because the next breath may not come. That’s what I’m sure of – that I’m not sure I’ll get tomorrow. So I don’t want to slip into trudging along, day by day, putting out the neverending onslaught of metaphorical fires and looking for the next Change somewhere on the horizon. How we see our world shapes our world… and it’s being shaped every day, whether we pay attention or not.
So, I think the lesson I need to stay focused on is this: Pay attention. Beauty, wonder, magic – it exists around us every day. Learn, grow, make a difference, marvel at the world – those opportunities exist around us every day, too. Go out and find them!