Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

I had an end-of-year dinner party last week and as we sat down to eat I realized that every one of my guests had had a monumental change over the previous year. There was a divorce in a decades long marriage, a move across country, a new job, and a new relationship among other big things.  I was the only one there who could not point to anything as dramatic and that got me thinking about the notion of change. As a psychologist, this is my business of course...to facilitate change. Change comes to us in many ways. Sometimes it's nothing we want or expect. Other times we pursue change. Sometimes change is dramatic, like the events in the lives of my dinner guests. It can come in a smack-on-the forehead moment; a sudden blast of insight that leads to substantive shifts. Sometimes it's like that, but rarely...extremely rarely (is it okay to use two adverbs like that?). Instead of these eureka moments, the change I see is more often is of the chipping rock variety. This kind of change happens deeply and slowly over time so that from one week to the next it might be extremely hard to notice. It's as though the molecules of your make-up are shifting in this quiet, organic way so that you might only notice by looking back to compare. 

Back to my dinner party: first I felt kind of cheated out of some huge change and then I turned my attention to the ways in which I have wanted to grow and made an assessment of my progress. Slowly, slowly in that chipping rock kind of way, I can see that I am different today than I was last year at this time. Little by little I have been working away at that granite mountain that is my belief that I must fix everything. If I had not taken the time to really ponder this I might not have noticed the changes I have made.

It's probably a mistake to put a value judgment on which kind of change is better. The lightening bolt ones are sexy and compelling for sure.  And the quiet ones feel satisfying in a deep way. How you get there probably matters little. And I actually think the eureka moments can only come after a quiet, sometimes unseen accretion the way that last drop spills water over the edge of a glass. 

I wonder what next year's end-of-year dinner party will bring.


Aileen said...

I really liked this post Liz, especially the image of the water drop and changes accruing gradually. I've found that to be very true in my life.

Liz said...

thanks for this, aileen. happy new year.