Everybody knows that change is inevitable but somehow it still manages to take us by surprise. When I woke up this morning it was cloudy, and then it was pouring rain, and then it was hailing, and finally it was sunny. Each time the weather changed, I looked up from my computer screen in wonderment. I thought for sure the sun would stick around this time; I thought for sure the rain would keep on falling. The sky looked so certain, and confident, and set in its ways. But it changed all the same, unexpectedly and loudly and quietly, all in the span of a few hours. ‘That’s Edinburgh for you,’ people say. Yes, but it is also people, and plans. It is also everything.
Very often, change brings uncertainty which I think is the reason many people reject it or are frightened of it to begin with. Change is both sinister and sneaky. I used to hate change. But more so than being scared of it, I think I was just selfish. I didn’t want people leaving, or getting older, or moving on, or dying. I didn’t want to go through the ordeal of filling in newly-found gaps in my life, or being forced to make new friends, or having to make big decisions that could end up being bad decisions. Most of the time, change is hard and uncomfortable and even disruptive – I always wanted things to be easy, to go the way I wanted them to.
When I was in Australia a few years ago, I walked past a sign at a bus stop that said don’t be afraid of change; be afraid of never changing. I thought that was the wisest poster I had ever read because for the first time, I considered the alternative. What if nothing ever changed? I thought of the whole world getting stuck, and going stale, and rotting. And the thought of that frightened me more than the prospect of things changing.
Not all change is good or welcome but all change is necessary. Deep down we already know this. It’s the reason we switch jobs, or end relationships, or move to a new city, or make new year’s resolutions every January out of our own free will. We want to be better and do better and have a better life. It’s when we get stuck or too comfortable on our own straight paths that life invites us to change by forcing change upon us. We think it’s cruel because that’s often how it feels. But maybe the cruel part is that no matter how much we try to resist change or fight it, we can never change change.