I heard something interesting on the radio on my morning commute today. I was listening to the radio show "Our Daily Bread" on BBN. Today's meditation was on change. The host, Les Lamborn, gave an interesting statistic. He said that a recent study of bypass surgery patients showed that two years after their surgery, 90% had not made the lifestyle changes their doctor recommended. "It seems," Mr. Lamborn said, "that they'd rather die than change."
Amen brother. As one that has been through two major life changes in the past year, I can say that observation is absolutely correct. I'll even be so blunt as to say that I'm absolutely shocked that the 2008 campaign was won on a slogan of "change" when my personal experience has shown that people meet change with the attitude of a toddler - full fledged kicking, screaming tantrums peppered with frantic tears and legs pumping to take them anywhere but here.
Dramatics aside, I do understand that change is frightening. Like I said, I've been through it recently. I was quick to learn that many people go into change with the attitude that it's going to be a "drag and drop" from where they were to where they're going. No adjustments, no major lifestyle changes, just take me from here to there and let me go along my merry way as I always have. And then reality hits. It's never what you expected. There are always unforseen things that must be dealt with; things you must rise to. This is where the resistance comes in.
It's tough. There have been many times where I've felt I was in the middle of a shop full of china dolls, and any noise that disturbs the silence of perfect expectation will shatter them. Then comes the bull of reality, shattering fragile emotions and breaking the very foundation of all they hold dear. Oh, how those shards prick! Oh, how they cut as tears flow and voices raise in protest of the audacity of reality to intrude on the fantasy of expectation!
I'll admit that I've been the china doll. I've been in situations where my own expectations were shattered and I found myself picking up the broken pieces of all I thought should be. It's simple human nature that we aren't going to give up what's comfortable. In most cases, we'll wither in a rut before we'll throw off what we know and embrace the unknown. And yet, change is the only path to progress. We simply can't move forward unless we let go of what is and take a chance on what can be. We fear the unknown. We fear letting go of what we know. We fear failure.
I've been there, and through my experiences I've learned three things: First, that failure isn't fatal. The only thing you lose is your pride, and that always comes back. Second, resistance to what you can't change is usually an excercise in futility that prolongs your misery. You're better off accepting what is dealing with reality the best way possible. Third, it's never what you expect. It will always be bigger than you anticipate and you will have to rise to it to get through it - but you can with faith and determination to do your very best.
Change is scary because change is destructive. Whether we pursue it or whether it comes to us unbidden, it's frightening to give up what you know for the unknown. Most of us hide from it, but some people, a brave few, are able to see opportunity and embrace it, knowing it's the key to a better life.
The nature of the universe is change. Be part of the brave 10%. Accept what is and do your best. You never know. It might be a struggle, but the reward may be above and beyond anything you expect is possible for your life.