I’m entering a new phase of life again. The last time this happened I was going through separation and divorce. This time, I’m finishing school and finding ways to use my new knowledge and skills. I’m also getting married to an amazing man in a couple of weeks.
Loss versus gain.
However, any kind of change, even the good kind, can be stressful and difficult. I’m not really worried about the stress and difficulty that will accompany this gain phase. As the title of this blog implies, I view all ‘problems’ as opportunities for growth and change and so they don’t really stress me out any more. Rather, I approach them with curiosity and creative problem-solving. I have learned that when I do so, I tend to find a better path forward and am able to create an enriching experience instead of just feeling resentment and grief.
In addition, I think it’s a mistake to view this new phase as a new phase; as they say, the only thing that stays constant is change. Change is constantly around us whether we choose to recognize it or not. In fact, I feel like the entire last four years has been a process of continual change and growth leaving me now in a place that is beyond anything I could ever have dreamed about. (Yes, I am marrying a very brave man who is willing to marry someone going through so much change.)
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” – William Shakespeare
If I take to heart the wisdom of the Bard, and I always try to, then even judging change as good or bad is a questionable practice. Like problems, change can be viewed either through a lens of joyous discovery or resistance and despair. While I believe the outcomes are much better when taking the former approach, I also believe that I am simply happier – regardless of the outcome – when I practice acceptance and interest during change or problem-solving processes.
And now, I will have a new spouse and great new tools with which to interpret, manage and enjoy them with. I have a fresher and wiser perspective than I once had so the changes will not be as stressful as they were four years ago. I have a deeper appreciation for all the abundance, beauty and love around me and I a bottomless gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. If I don’t take those things for granted, I won’t be as resentful if I must one day lose them.
I’m also wise enough to know that having expectations attached to positive change is also a set-up for disappointment. Rather, I will approach the change with curiosity and openness and a willingness to go with the flow. The latter is a huge step forward for me as a recovering control-freak and someone whose bottom strength is adaptability. The secret: I haven’t changed who I am but rather shift my perspective of needing control to feel safe to instead focusing on the pleasure of discovery and the challenge of finding opportunity and beauty in all things, ‘good’ and ‘bad’. After all, I would not have been in this unimaginable place if I had limited my reality only to the places and things that I can imagine.
I like the metaphor of the butterfly. In the chrysalis or caterpillar stage, the creature is safe within a narrowly defined world: the cocoon or the leaves. Once transformed, the butterfly ventures out to explore the wider world. Either way, the butterfly can get eaten, but at least the flying version has the freedom to explore and enjoy until it’s time for the next, inevitable phase. And that ultimate loss is just part of life as well.
We are that butterfly. We can stay in the cocoon or continue to crawl in the tree, blindly looking for leaf after leaf to eat. Or we can fly away and explore the limits of our existence. Go out (or in) and explore. Enjoy the journey. Don’t be afraid. Life is too short and too beautiful!