Change blooms. Velvet petals of newness and alteration curl within the flower of change like curvatures in an ear, separated by periods of dark emptiness the way creases of space syncopate the bloom of a rose.
If that poeticizes change a bit too much it is because I am trying to perfume a pig.
I am an agent of change and have been as long as I can remember, very often without knowing it or meaning to be. For reasons I cannot name, I see and think differently than many – uncentered and a bit off kilter – and so placed within a position of leadership my simple presence torments what was and changes what is. There are smart, incisive people who know when they are leading change and do it with grace and acumen. I just be it and make the best of it when I know how and am able.
Perhaps that is the way it is with most people in our daily lives rather than in leading people and organizations. We all stumble into change because everything is always changing.
Whenever possible we resist change or simply refuse to recognize it in favor of our routines that cover a multitude of changes. When we erect levees and affix blinders then we do not perceive the minions of incremental change that swim alongside us at every moment until a levee leaks or blinder malfunctions. Then we are arrested by grief or anger toward the loss or losses every change exacts.
Yet we also know, intellectually if not emotionally, that change harbors beauty and gifts heretofore unknown. These are the petals within the bloom appearing out of the closed blossom as if in time-lapse photography. That is the nugget of wisdom about navigating change we need to hold onto like a talisman: wait for the full bloom before rejecting out of hand the advent of change.
Premature reactions to altered situations, and knee-jerk rejections that have us instinctively swimming against the current, thin our ability to perceive the bloom in our life or that the blossoming of change isn’t done yet.
Once change has begun its bloom it is impossible to hold back or extremely hazardous if we do.
I am in an unsettled state these days myself, and for months yet to come if not years, and so I am trying to practice patience with change. Even more so, I am experimenting with Tai Chi on change – slow, controlled movements within my own heart and head that respond to changes around me, not by resisting them but instead surfing the power of their currents. It sounds goofy, I know.
In practical terms it means noticing the many emotional reactions I feel to loss and difference, allowing those emotions to be present without responding to them one way or another. Noticing my own reactions, the way we would notice movements in the grass nearby or changes in the leaves in spring or fall. Pain or pleasure, it makes no difference in the midst of change; simply noticing the glut of feelings while continuing to watch the motion of the bloom. When we do this, it becomes possible to ride upon the energy of change instead of withering in its force.
The practice of “non-anxious presence” for example, does not mean that in a given moment we are not anxious, it means we notice our anxiety and ask questions about it: what does my anxiety tell me about this situation, what is it grounded in, have I experienced this before in similar situations and what does that tell me? Non-anxious presence is not non-anxious, it is non-reactive to the anxiety evoked in the moment. This Tai Chi of change I am describing, is that kind of a practice.
So loss and gain, grief and pleasure curl around each other forming a bloom of unique and spectacular beauty that only change can produce over time and within our lives. Watch, behold, and be amazed.