I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately—probably because it seems to be all around me.
Some of it is happening indirectly, in a way, but which also touches me in some way.
And some of it is directly my own. It’s change that feels right; I know it’s time. But it’s still left me feeling a mix of emotions: happy, excited, and a little sad. I’m ready and it feels right, but I’ve also found myself feeling sad about parts of what I’m letting go of.
But even though I have found myself feeling a mix of emotions, I’ve noticed myself, especially lately, feeling a warmer, deeper feeling of peace—I’m realizing that more of me just feels ready.
As I move through change, I remind myself that I’ve experienced change and letting go before and everything has worked out okay (even better than okay).
I can remember years ago when I realized I was no longer friends with someone who I had once considered one of my closest friends. Nothing bad had happened; I just realized we weren’t as close as we once were.
I remember feeling upset at first—not at her but at myself. I felt so disappointed in myself. How could I have allowed this to happen? How could I have allowed us to grow so far apart?
At some point after sitting in bed thinking these thoughts, I decided to go for a walk. I remember starting to walk over the Charles River in Boston when an understanding suddenly washed through me: I was so different from who I was in college, how could I expect the nature of those relationships to stay the same?
I felt myself soften instantly—because it was true. I was so different from who I had been. How could I expect those friendships to stay the same?
I had been reading a Pema Chödrön book at the time. It was either The Wisdom of No Escape or When Things Fall Apart. I know that that thought that moved through me, that message of the nature of change, of impermanence, came through her words, through her message.
And it softened me.
And as I look back, I don’t long for that space or that time. I don’t miss those friendships. I have warm feelings, I know I had fun, I know I liked spending time with those girls—but I don’t long for that time. I like where I am now, who I am now. This feels right. I don’t miss that time or wish I had it in my life.
This change feels fluid, natural…right.
I can remember another time when change didn’t feel as difficult as I thought it would.
As I stood in the Boston Public Garden one winter morning, I was so enchanted by the way the ice on the tree branches sparkled. It was so beautiful.
I realized partway through marveling at and appreciating what I was seeing that I was also mourning; I was saying goodbye. And in that moment, I knew that I was leaving, or that in some other place or time, I had already left. I knew I’d leave Boston.
I expected myself to be so sad; I prepared myself for it. But when I was in the cab on my way to the airport, looking at the beautiful buildings all around me, all I felt was ready. I felt happy, excited, and ready.
And maybe that’s how it works. Maybe change can encompass all of it: excitement, readiness, sadness, fear, reluctance to let go of what we know. But also, maybe, it won’t be as sad or difficult as we think it will be.
Maybe, yes, there are parts that we’ll miss, or maybe we just think we’ll miss them, and we won’t really miss them at all because the change we’ll have made will just feel right. Maybe we’ll always look back warmly, fondly on what was, but we won’t actually long for it or miss it in the way we think we will.
Of course, change I think will feel easier, softer in this way, if it’s something that we’re choosing—if it comes from a space or place within us. If we know it’s right. If we know it’s time. If we’re the ones who are doing the deciding.
It’s natural, I think, with change to feel a mix of emotions—to feel ready and excited and happy, and also a little sad for what we’re letting go of (even if some of the sadness stems from nostalgia or things that are not even really true to our current lived experiences any more).
Maybe change just happens, and some parts will feel easier and some may elicit various emotions, and maybe we anticipate difficulties with change that won’t actually arise—because the deeper parts of us will just feel that it’s time.
It helps to reflect upon and remind ourselves that we’ve been through change before, and that everything has worked out okay—maybe even better than okay. That we wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than where we are—so it’s likely we’ll feel the same in that future space and time: happy to be where we are, and not longing for what was.