#148 Change

"Sometimes you have to leave the path you've laid out in order to find the one you need."

This is post about change. There has been a lot of that in my life this year and all of it has been positive and challenging and incredibly impactful. There will be significantly more change next year. I will leave my present assignment and the place where I have spent the majority of my career and the last 8 years of my life and go to a different Post, with a different type of unit, and a whole new set of responsibilities.

In many ways though, this is a post about two different types of change, internal and external. I think most people - myself included - seem to generally only focus on external change. New job, new location, new surroundings and circumstances and people. We don't pay nearly as much attention to internal change. External life just sort of eats away at us in little tiny imperceptible bites until one day we wake up and realize that we have become imprisoned by our own lives. Sheltered and locked away and closed off from new experiences. The intersection of internal change and external. The place where what you want to do when you realize how trapped you are runs into the reality of how trapped you think you really are. The feeling that even if you wanted to cast off in a new direction, that it is too hard to do. That there are too many things anchoring you to your present circumstances. The truly courageous know that that is not true.

Earlier this year, I started my journey of internal change. For one of the few times in my adult life, I listened to my gut. A person came into my life who offered me friendship and a chance to put down some burdens and an opportunity to view my life differently. Some of that journey has played out here because I think that what I have discovered, what I have learned, what I have experienced and grown from, is valuable. It is worth sharing. That my search for, and discovery of, my own authenticity, is the same journey a lot of people are on.

As I have taken my journey, I am learning to accept responsibility for my life. That I am the master of my choices. That I always retain the right and the obligation to choose and create my happiness and contentment. A happiness derived from following my instincts and listening to my heart and acting in accordance with my priorities. and it's amazing to discover how rare it is for people to do that. How rarely they listen to their heart and apply some logic, and have a faith and trust in themselves that the outcome will be just fine. God knows, that I didn't for a long long time. I am beginning to now, but sometimes I still slip and falter. I have learned that it is safe and good and right to trust my gut, but a lot of times it's still a little scary to take the first step alone. The steps to change oneself are some of the scariest ones people can take. Internal change does not come easily.

And now external change is about to show up. A lot of it. A lot of the things that have become routine and grounding and anchoring parts of my life are going be thrown up in the air. And the more I think about it, the more excited I am about it. Whole systems that have become comfortable old sweaters of routine and convention are going to be replaced by new discovery, new experiences, new learning. And a chance to walk into an unknown place and look at things with new eyes. As long as I stay where I am, I limit myself entirely too much. Here is safe and comfortable and warm and good. Here makes the people I love and care about happy and warm. All of that is true. But at some point, you have to just break free and live and experience and learn and enjoy and laugh. We talk in my family about having adventures now. When we do something as a family we call it having an adventure. My daughter loves adventures. It's time for my life to become an adventure as well. To strike out and discover something new. To trust my instincts and to know that all is well. Not with some pie-in-the-sky dream of my own abilities, but rather with the confidence of knowing failure and loss and knowing that I have survived and thrived because of them. Because I have been willing to face myself and to look into the darker places in my soul. Because I have looked hard enough to know that no matter what happens, I have the strength to lead myself and my family through it.

Another piece of this discussion that seems to me to be important though is that change is the constant. That's not an original thought I know, but just consider that we set about building our lives by finding a place to live. Finding a life partner. Finding a career. All binding and long term. All provide a sense of grounding and home and anchoring. A sense of self-definition. And then so many of us become trapped and bound by the very life we have built. What if instead of that, we began to think of home and family, and community not as physical spaces and locations and professions and objects, but rather as ideas and feelings and people and emotions and thoughts. What if home is where we are, regardless of where that is, simply because those people and things we love the most are there? Or because where we are most professionally happy is there? Or because the experiences we most cherish are there? What if that is where our home is? Ever thought about that? That the art of living is experiencing the world as completely as possible. Turning each day into its' own adventure. Change is the constant. Maybe what I need to do is embrace that idea first. Then the rest of it will become a huge adventure for my whole family.

So change is coming. And the choice to embrace it or fight it belongs to me. The interesting part is that my external, fear-driven me has fought it with every fiber for the last week or so. My internal me - my instinctual me - very quickly saw the opportunities that were being offered. Change is a funny thing. A year ago, I hadn't taken the steps to learn to trust and listen to myself. Now I have. But external change is hard to do. It is hard to fight against. It is hard to uproot and move and let go of a lot of the old anchors. Seems to me though that if I have the strength, courage and determination to look at the rest of my life square in the eye and embrace that journey, then the adventure that lies ahead will be awesome!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.