Friday, December 10, 2010

Get Your Mitts Off My Boat!

I've been reflecting a lot recently on the nature of change and how we react to it.  There are a number of different situations in my life... some that I'm closely connected to, others that I'm simply aware of and watching in spectator-fashion... that involve change.  It's been very interesting to observe how people react when changes happen.  Overwhelmingly, there seems to be an initial response of panic.

Most of us, sometime in our lives, have been in a small boat on the water...  a canoe, a raft, a rowboat.  There is always that initial physical reaction when the boat gets rocked.  Maybe another boat has bumped into yours, maybe someone in your boat has suddenly stood or leaned out to grab a passing stick, maybe you've found yourself being attacked by the Loch Ness Monster (ok, maybe that was just me).  But without even thinking about it, your entire body tenses, your arms jump out to hold on to the side, and you automatically lean to whichever side will stop the loss of equilibrium.  Your mind hasn't had time yet to catch up with what is happening and needs to be done. But your body immediately knows "Something is different and it needs to stop NOW."

I find it is the same with change.  It doesn't even matter if the change is self-directed or if it's something inflicted on you by outside influence.  Until your mind sorts it all out, there is panic and confusion.  Nothing is what your mind expected it to be.  We order ourselves based on routines, based on the expectations of certain things staying the same.  When those things change, sometimes the only thought we have is "Things are not right" and I think it scares us.

We like to think that we are in control.  We know that there are millions of things out there that we have no say in.  We don't get to dictate them, and so we order our lives and our responses to those things in such a way that we feel like we are in charge.  Change breaks that sense of control and reminds us that we really don't get to call all the shots.

But, there comes a moment, when you're in that boat, that your mind catches up to your physical panic.  It takes in all the information, analyzes it, and you relax when you realize that the rocking was for the good.  Maybe it brought you closer to shore, maybe it brought you alongside a friend's boat for laughter and camaraderie, or maybe it was simply to avoid an oncoming collision.  Despite your trepidation, things are better now than they were before and you can once again order your world and feel like you are in charge.


  1. I watched this happen yesterday. I had talked with Haydn about the prospect of homeschool. He thought about it a while and then asked if we could do it. I told him I did not know for sure. Well, he kept asking to come home. Finally, yesterday, I withdrew him. When we told him he never has to go back to that classroom, he looked at us blankly. We repeated ourselves and asked if he was happy. He said yes, but he continued to look blank. I reminded Corey that Haydn does not handle change well, even good change. So, really, this calm was a BLESSING. Today, he is excited. But, it took a full day of thinking it over.

  2. It's the redefining of normal that can sometimes take a bit to do. Least, that seems to be the way for me. It makes me hesitant to define normal at all, because as soon as I do things up and change again. Even the changes I KNOW to be good are hard to accept. It makes me understand those, including myself, who stay in a not so good situation because it's "comfortable."