I’ve spent the last year dealing with changes, some good, some okay, some not so good and some that are simply amazing. I learned a long time ago that regardless of our desires, rivers keep flowing, trees keep growing, and life goes on around us. Interestingly enough, however, lots of people don’t seem to see things that way. It feels like about 40 percent of us want time to stop and are longing for a make-believe era when things were utopian. (I was alive then. It wasn’t all that great.)
Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese-American writer and poet who is the third best selling all time poet behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu, once wrote, “Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge. ” To say that I’ve been perplexed by some of the changes that we’re facing would be a colossal understatement, but I do remain completely curious. It seems to me that if we cease to be curious, stop seeking knowledge, or think that we know it all and don’t care if we learn anymore, that’s when we get into trouble. That’s when we dig in to defend beliefs that have been completely debunked, have always been false, or are just downright stupid.
My grandfather, for example, refused to wear pants with zippers. He’d say, “Those new fangled things are ridiculous.” More importantly, however, I think he might have been afraid of them because, not unlike the scene from “Something About Mary,” things can occasionally get caught if you’re not paying attention. So, it appears that a lot of people are just downright afraid of change.
Believe me, Pasquale wasn’t a stupid guy. He loved fun, people and life, but when changes bothered him, he’d dig in and be so stubborn that it was almost incomprehensible. Let’s put this into even more perspective. He left home at age 13, made his way to the port of Naples on foot from the middle of Italy, got on a boat and came to America . . . alone. Then, he found a job, went back years later and found a wife. He raised his family here while learning to speak English and play the stock market. No change involved in that story, huh?
When I try to explain the coping mechanisms needed to embrace change, I usually fall back to a quote from Morgan Freeman who said, “I always tell my kids if you lay down, people will step over you. But if you keep scrambling, if you keep going, someone will always, always give you a hand. Always. But you gotta keep dancing; you gotta keep your feet moving.”
That quote grabs me because dancing is a good description of coping. Think about it. When you are dancing, say, at a holiday party or a wedding, you’re typically not in control of the music selections, the order in which they are played or even the style of music that you’ll be dancing to during any given set of tunes. It’s like life. Things keep coming at you that you can’t control.
Dancing is creative exercise, a way to move around the floor, and, most importantly, a way to have fun. In the late 60s, Sly and the Family Stone (It was Freddie, Rose and Sly Stone; hence the name.) performed a song called “Dance to the Music.” At the beginning of the song, one of the musicians screams to the audience demanding that they, “Get on up…and dance to the music!”
Well, that’s what we’ve been doing, and that’s what the heck you need to do, too. Get up and dance to the music. Turn it into entertainment, enjoy the changes, and see just how flexible you can be because unless or until the plug is pulled or the battery runs down, change is gonna be with you, and it only stops being fun when you stop trying to dance.