Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher, said, “Make friends with change.” He made this statement after surviving a life-threatening stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. With years of therapy, he regained some speech but is still wheelchair bound. He views his stroke as an act of grace that deepened his understanding of life and the purpose of suffering. With his grateful attitude and a glimpse of deeper understanding, he advises that we might as well open our arms to change. Aging is just one long stream of changes. Those that seem to navigate old age best become experts at adjusting, improvising, embracing the new freedoms and new limitations that are a part of the journey. Rather than fighting against change, we can open the door to creative new thoughts and new possibilities.
I had a very wise mentor in my life that said you can either be a stick or a string. If you’re a stick, you are always pushing back. A rigid attitude means that you can only accept a limited number of options. There are times when being stubborn is beneficial, but usually it is because we refuse new facts and conditions. Barry Sternlicht, an American billionaire says, “As the facts change, change your thesis. Don’t be a stubborn mule.” When you’re a string, you’re flexible. You can be very creative with a string, and it will serve many purposes. But the stick can only be a stick, and if you try to make it bend, it breaks. Embracing change is about being a string and making adjustments as we go. It is difficult to plan for major changes - a devastating illness, loss of a loved one - but we can practice being flexible with the small changes in our life. Join the conversation about change on Facebook at Just Now Old Enough.