Fear of Change

I have a list a mile long that I should be working through, yet here I am writing!

I am a list maker, and then I work methodically through my list as steadily as I can. I am a spreadsheet, everything in it’s place, check and double check kind of gal. Even when I do something deemed “creative” I have a process and I stick to the framework of that process as much as possible. It is just who I am and it has served me fairly well so far.

There are lots of changes happening in my life, but if you know me at all, you know that I am ok with change. When nothing changes for awhile, I get anxious and cause a change just to get things moving again.

A new daughter in law, a new theatre space to work in, a lot of new projects for the next few months could all seem too much. Yet I feel so energized and joyful for all of these new changes. I see excitement and possibilities on the horizon and I love it!

Lately I have seen where people are fighting change in rather irrational ways. If there is one thing I have learned about life, both scientifically, spiritually and emotionally, things are always changing. Without change, life dies.

I had a chat with a young father the other day and we talked about the phases kids go through. You want them to grow up so you can quit changing diapers, to get past the terrible twos, to get through those emotional teenage years. Then you realize that they are grown and gone and you are nostalgic for the diapers, tantrums and crying jags. You long to have them home and safe in your care. You wonder why you ever wished those phases away.

I told him to enjoy every phase because none of them last for very long. As soon as you get a handle on one set of traits, things change. And that is as it should be.

If kids stayed babies forever, then where would we be? (All still babies, I guess!) If they stayed two forever, well they (and we as parents) probably wouldn’t survive! Each age has its endearing qualities and its horrors. And then it is gone.

As we get older and begin to need help, our kids get older and are there for us (hopefully!) The circle of life- it works! Who knew??

I had another interesting talk with an older dad last night. His only child and her family have moved across the country. I could see the sadness in his eyes, but also the love that knew to let them go and grow. He saw the change as a challenge, but also an opportunity. He told me interesting stories about his latest visit and showed me gorgeous pictures of their new home and surroundings.

To me, most change is like that, a challenge and an opportunity.

Sometimes you just can’t save the “old ways”. Sometimes you shouldn’t really want to. That doesn’t mean to throw out all of the traditions or never try to save a historic site. But if the old places are only that, old places, and old ways of doing things are holding back the growth of a person or place, then maybe it is time to change and grow. Change for change’s sake only is usually not good, but holding on to a tradition or thought just because it is “the way it has always been” isn’t good either.

A local theatre that I am rather fond of lost their lease recently. It was a tough situation, but the group reminisced for a time, raised some money for a time and then started looking to the future. I don’t know what will happen. My hope is that they find a place that is even better and that they begin to build new memories in that space. It might be just what they need to take the next step in their growth. Who knows? But they are hopeful and actively working to make that hope a reality. They seem unafraid of the change.

Too often, we let a change do us in. Too often, we fight change when we have no basis for our fight except fear. Too often, a change is exactly what we need to do more and be more than we could have ever been in the old situation.

Is change hard? Yes, usually. Is rethinking what you have done for years a challenge? Of course. But being stagnant, fighting every new house in your neighborhood, pushing away any new idea, holding on to outdated ideas and hiding from change is the surest way to watch your family, your community, yourself shrivel up and die. Fresh ideas, new plans, and changes are the surest way to keep moving towards a brighter future.

I had lunch with some of my girlfriends today. These woman are around my age- in our late 50’s early 60’s. There have been times and places where that was considered really old. Not any more! We are all super busy and active in our communities and churches. We are all healthy and in good shape, ready to keep going for awhile!

We had a discussion about how the world is changing, how our perceptions about people are changing and how we are trying to keep up. We talked about how, after nearly 60 years of thinking about things one way, we were working to see things in a new way. We admitted sometimes we thought or said things in a way that might not be current, but we were trying to be open, willing, and mindful about how we address people and issues of the day.

I was proud to leave that group knowing that although we were raised by a generation who might never understand the changes in our society, we were doing our best to love and accept everyone. That we wanted to be a part of the change that will make our world better for everyone. That we know that the world is changing quickly and that we want to be a part of that change. That although we were raised one way and we could just turn a blind eye to everything going on around us, we know how important it is to engage with people of all kinds and learn to respect each other for who we are, who we love, and what we believe.

Pretending that an area is always going to stay the same, that your children will always be little and life will always be like it is right now is not realistic. To think that you will never have to make concessions for your age or your health, that you will be independent and driving until you are 100 is only going to cause heartache for you and your family. Being realistic about the changes we will face as we age will make life better for everyone involved. That doesn’t mean give up, it means get real!

To think your grown children won’t move away, change churches, make decisions you take issue with is being na├»ve. Change will come- to your family, your home, your neighborhood, yourself.

How many times have you seen people raise hell about an upcoming change, only to wonder how you lived without the change once it is complete? (I see people all of the time in the very grocery store that they fought being built years ago.) How many times have you forgotten how it even was before the change? (I could name several roads around my house that have seen change and I really can’t remember how they were before!) Don’t be so quick to find fault with every change you are presented with. Keep growing, keep thinking, keep being open to all of the possibilities around you. Sure, maybe some things need to stay the same, but come on- think before you automatically say no!

Who knows, the change might do you good!


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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.