“Just because everything’s changing, Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before. All you can do is try to know who your friends are, As you head off to the war. Pick a star on the dark …
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“Just because everything’s changing,
Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before.
All you can do is try to know who your friends are,
As you head off to the war.
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light…”
— Regina Spektor, “The Call”
I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. Of course, there are a lot of things changing at my job, as Jeffco moves the sixth grade on to the middle school, thus changing the nature of the job that I do. My son, as a result of this change, will be going to the middle school. One of my daughters is starting to think about college, and all the changes that that brings. My wife’s job is constantly changing. And, of course, it’s graduation season.
So, there’s a lot going on.
But, my father used to always preach that “the only constant in life is change.” Some people are scared of change — actually physically, emotionally unwilling to deal with their circumstances being different one day than they are today. And, while there’s a certain normalcy to that — the human brain is wired to recognize familiar patterns — it also can lead to the inability to move on from bad and dangerous situations. And, on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who are so averse to “settling” that they engage in change just for the sake of change. Now, there are a variety of other psychological factors in play there, too, but suffice to say, that end of the spectrum is also fraught with the potential for bad outcomes.
I try to strike a balance in my life. For the most part, I’m pretty happy where I’m at, so I look at change a little suspiciously. That’s not to say that I don’t try to evaluate and grow, constantly “tweaking” what I’ve been doing if I see a space to do better. And, sure, sometimes those tweaks end up working exactly like how like Tim Allen/Tim Taylor used to tweak stuff on “Home Improvement,” but that rarely stops me from trying to squeeze another 6, 8 or 12 percent out of my performance. Still, wholesale change is rarely on my radar, as long as there’s room to grow still.
Some change is natural, inevitable, like graduation. But, sometimes, change is forced on you. I didn’t have any say in the age groups changing next year, and I also didn’t have any say when our original design changed. And there are some people still inclined to fight some of those changes, but sometimes, you just have to throw your hands up: It’s not in my control, so I waste very little energy on it.
You see, there is a lot of simple wisdom in that stanza I quoted up above by Regina Spektor, from the “Chronicles of Narnia” soundtrack. If change is coming, I suppose one of the first things you have to decide when dealing with it is whether it’s really a big deal — do you have any control to begin with, and is it really earth-shattering. After that, know who your friends are — what are your assets, what are your strengths, who’s got your back, and who can you trust? And, no, I’m not comparing middle school to a war … minor skirmish, maybe a battle some days, but not a war.
Beyond that, pick a star. Know what you believe, know what’s important, and try to stay true to that. I know that requires a little more philosophy than most people really care to engage in, but that’s what makes philosophy so important. When you’re surrounded by darkness, by the unknown, you have something to guide you.
And then ... leap in to the adventure!
Change is coming. You may not see it as easily as I can in the schools right now, but change is coming. Find your star, find your friends, and get ready for it.
Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.
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