35th Day in Spain
How well do you handle change? You know that thing that everyone says constantly happens. I’ve tricked myself into thinking I’m comfortable with change, but I’ve grown to realize the opposite. In spite of all the changes I want to make, I’m horrible with change.
The Current Changes
In 30th Day in Spain, I wrote about getting used to being somewhere. Having grown accustomed to living in my current home, I was apprehensive about living here in Spain for the summer. It occurred to me last night that another plane is taking off in about 16 Days whether or not I’m ready for it.
If that plane takes off with us it’s going to take us away from Madrid, back home.
I’m used to living in Madrid now!
To conserve energy and the money it costs, I set the thermostat on the air conditioner in our Texas home to 80 degrees. Our house is going to welcome us with open, but hot, rather stale, arms. We used up all the food before we left. There’s nothing to eat there.
Worst of all: I’m going to have to drive cars!
Then it occurred to me that sixteen days is still more than half the length of both of our previous trips to Spain. I’ve been here for a sufficient amount of time to grow comfortable and cozy. As cozy as 95 degree days with no air conditioning can be. I’m not prepared to leave. I’m already dreading that change.
Yeah, I’m not so good with change.
If you read much of my blog, you’ll see that there are lots of new changes at work. Most of the changes are necessary. Well, they may all be necessary. They’re just not all comfortable for me. They’re not scorpions growing a third pincer level of uncomfortable, but more how long can I sit level of uncomfortable. Not that I can complain. I am working remotely in Spain for the summer.
But change is change. Or is it? That phrase seems as trite and useless as “It is what it is.”
Change is what change is?
The Hardest Changes
It occurred to me a few months ago that I’ve got about six years to brace for the change I dread more than any other change. I need to find a therapist now to help me cope with that change because in six short years something will happen far more impactful than a plane taking off with or without me.
My Daughter is Going to Graduate
As much as I try to talk her out of it, she wants to go to college. I can spend the next six years trying to talk her out of leaving us for college or I can spend the time learning to accept change. At least learning to accept that change.
Man, I can’t wait to get back to The States so I can find a therapist!
Change Keeps Changing So Fast
The current change isn’t like evolution. Evolution is nice and slow, slow enough that you can’t see it, sometimes even too slow to see. Slow enough to sneak by you while you’re making other plans.
What was it John Lennon said about that?
Change is sneaky that way. You’re swimming along through the oceans of life, minding your own business. Then one day your kid comes up out of nowhere and tells you she wants to walk on land.
We’ve always supported her in everything she wants to try so my shock is immediately followed by pangs of guilt as I hear my immediate response echo throughout the room.
When did you get legs?!?
Dad, all the kids are getting legs now.
But the land’s so dry. There’s nothing to eat there but a bunch of dry plants. Land things eat water things. When did you get legs?
You either embrace intelligent design and wake up one day to find that you glow in the dark and grew a spiny exoskeleton, or you resist the change and open up the newspaper one day and read that you’re on the endangered species list.
I feel like I’m mixing a sort of metaphor salad here.
The current rate of change is increasing at an increasing rate. Change itself is changing. All the experts tell us that. (Well, this one did.)
Learn to accept change.
Practice mindfulness and embrace impermanence.
Here’s A Thought from about 2,500 Years Ago
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
How did rivers manage their sprints thousands of years ago without a kanban board?
How did ancient rivers manage to promote their backlog of changes without an eager Scrum Master to push them around the next bend?
Only Heraclitus knows for sure.
Recently, Bruce Lee Advised us to be Like Water
Did he not see what Heraclitus said? Being water is hard!
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
Be the bottle. Be the teapot. Short and stout? Not the teapot, the water in the teapot!
It’s not all about the water. We should be flexible like trees. I found dozens of quotes about bending instead of breaking. I’m sticking with Bruce:
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”
I wish Bruce was still alive, so he could tell us what to do now.
Is the racing rate at which change happens what we really want?
One of the advantages of being water is that water can flow. But water can also crash. Is it time to crash?
Ultimately, it was Woody from Cheers whoproclaimed one of my favorite quotes of all time.
“Times they are a-changin’, Mr. Peterson.”
-Woody Boyd from Cheers
Evolution vs. Technology
Evolution is Change
Evolution is probably more what Heraclitus was thinking. It’s nice and slow. You don’t really notice it. We just occasionally read about the new discovery of a fish or frog that lives its entire life in a dark cave pool, so it learned to glow and can speak idiomatic Mandarin upside down and backward.
Technology is Change
It’s the one speeding up. I think we’re moving too fast. We don’t know what the radiation and waves from our phones and having wi-fi everywhere — even on Madrid’s buses — is doing to us. Shouldn’t we slow down a bit and investigate? Before cannonballing into the pool, shouldn’t we make sure it’s not teaming with sharks with laser beams attached to their heads? Or worse, ill-tempered sea bass?
Technology is commoditizing IT jobs. That means it’s making them irrelevant. IT jobs and careers are being automated and homogenized. Millions of IT pros who are used to big houses and fancy cars, or just having jobs, are in for a rude awakening.
I’m pretty conservative, almost Libertarian. Still, I can clearly see technology is consuming jobs. We need plans for when the world no longer has jobs for truck drivers and server managers, maybe even if it means a living wage.
In many ways, I’m a horrible conservative. I’m an even worse liberal, though, so it’s a wash.
Be the Fish or Frog
We have no choice but to learn to glow. What happened to those fish and frogs that spent their lives in pools of dark caves who didn’t learn to glow? They either end up on the endangered species list or vanish without a legacy.
Water can flow or crash, but can it glow?
Personally, I think we’re flowing a little too much. I think we’re flowing a little too willingly into Bruce Lee’s proverbial bottles and teapots. I think those teapots are teaming with radiation and sharks with laser beams attached to their heads.
I see too much crashing too, crashing for selfish reasons.
With all due respect to Bruce Lee, less flowing and more glowing is what I think we need.
We need less flowing and more glowing.
Life is Harsh and Cruel
Moses and Darwin didn’t see eye to eye on how this thing was put together. However, they did agree on one thing:
Life is supposed to be hard.
Life is harsh and cruel in two major ways.
The First Cruelty is That There is Only One Possible Outcome
The meaning of life, the reason we’re here, our purpose: it’s not 42. Our purpose is to progress. To paraphrase The Accidental Creative’s Todd Henry:
We’re not wired for comfort. We’re wired to conquer.
We’re supposed to evolve, to adapt to the constantly changing environment. As soon as we mutate to catch up to the environment, our change causes the environment to change. It’s adapting to us too. We quickly have a new environment to adapt to.
And in this Mutate or Die arena, if you can’t keep up you become extinct. We’re watching now as our advances are advancing so fast that the environment can’t keep up. What happens when you can’t keep up? You become a former species.
That’s not even the cruel part.
Here’s the cruel part. Even if your species does adapt, every one of its members ultimately suffers the same fate.
There is only one possible outcome.
It’s the same for all of us, even the things we need in our environment to survive.
The Second Way Life is Harsh and Cruel
We have this thing that means more of us to any other thing in existence. What we want most in the Universe is to have this thing with us for the extent of our existence.
The species must adapt.
We want to nurture and protect it, keep it safe and close, but that’s not our purpose. Our purpose is to mold and train our most precious thing and prepare it to leave us and thrive without us.
For the species to adapt, the offspring must leave for college or Broadway.
Or maybe Durango or Corpus Christi. I’m really pulling for Broadway because I will prefer to hear:
Dad, I got you and Mom free tickets to my show so you can come to see me every day and twice and Saturday and Sunday!
…versus her going to college and my hearing:
Dad, did you really have to sign up for the same Ancient French Feminist Literature History class as me? You’re embarrasing me. And stop copying my notes!
But before I apply to the same college as her, we’ve got a few more days in Madrid.
How well do you embrace change?
I can embrace embracing change, but I think we all need to slow things down a bit. Do you agree?
This is Day 35 of my Summer in Spain saga that began 46 days ago.