Oh, change. You fickle, fickle fact of life. We love you; we hate you; we wish we could tame you. We fight against you, we create you, we claim to embrace you. Capricious to the end.
It’s been my experience that there is a stark difference between chosen change and unchosen change. Aka, the difference between choosing to start going to the gym, move across the country, or pick up a hobby, compared to having to re-structure relationships, being forced to move, or getting let go from a job.
The last few years have been full of both types of change with varying results. Lately, it’s mostly consisted of the latter. I’ve felt pretty yanked around by life and other people’s choices. That gets old.
Though not all necessarily negative changes, I did not choose them, so they take on a different feeling than others.
I’ve decided this season will be about change that I choose, as much as I can control—not driven by the action of others.
This personal commitment started with a trip to somewhere new to reset. You can’t get more different than Louisiana compared to WA, and New Orleans was chaos in a bottle. Though I had a few moments of “What if” attached to a different version of that trip that I had to let go of—in the end, I embraced what was instead. And what was turned out to be pretty darn great, too (aggressive comedians and all).
New Orleans reminded me that there is discovery in spontaneity, and I still have that ability inside of myself. As someone more likely to over/think/plan/feel, etc., giving myself room for spontaneous expression is not always easy.
I started small on this trip by taking advantage of a café piano. Now, for context, I’ve eyed many a café piano in my time, wishing I had the courage to stand up and play something, anything. Every time, I talked myself out of it—I’m very good at that.
My hands were shaking so badly I could barely play the keys, but I did it, against every contradictory compulsion to stay still and do nothing. Because still is safe, still is expected, still is comfortable. I have been doing much too much in the realm of the familiar lately, letting life happen to me in the name of being sensible instead of playing an active role.
The truth is, no one will remember the random amateur piano player at the café. No one is going to stone me for imperfection (this isn’t the Old Testament, after all). Worst case scenario, someone gets silently annoyed or thinks an uncharitable thought, maybe says an unkind word. Oh no, heaven protect me!!! How will I ever recover???
I didn’t know my friends were recording me, but I’m glad they did (despite the mortification). Playing a few silly arpeggios and chord progressions may seem like a small step in the grand scheme of things, but it felt big, like unsticking a gear in a clock. I acted, and no one yelled at or chastised me. No one batted an eye. It was liberating.
I aim to choose change in manageable and consistent ways until, over time, it’s easier and easier to choose action again versus staying stagnant and safe.
Choice is the only real power we have, whether that’s choosing how we respond to unwanted change or choosing the change we wish to pursue. I am not going to throw away that power under the clause of being sensible. There is a time and a place for sense, for stillness. And there is a time to act.
Thank you for reading!