Change… And What Remains

I have been talking with friends and clients often lately about impermanence… and the nature of change… 

The changes that we choose
Changes initiated on our own terms
Filled with possibility and power

And the changes that choose us
Tinged with fear and regret and anger

Unbidden change… 
Unwelcome change…
Unexpected change…

The losses and leave-takings…

On what can we rely in a world of shifting landscapes?

What remains in the face of change?

And in what constancies can we cloak ourselves in uncertain times?

We humans are a courageous bunch really… hungry for hope… and a yearning to believe that wrongs will be righted… balance will be restored… that farewells are not goodbyes… and, regardless of situation or circumstance, we will be okay.

What remains in the face of change? 

Your tribe. 
Us. Together – in hearts and minds and memory – if not location. And a will to keep moving forward towards the future. 

My favorite poem by Stanley Kunitz always comes to mind when I am talking with people about life and change and – fear – and resilience. I’m including it below. “Live in the layers” indeed.

The Layers

I have walked through many lives, 
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.

When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:

“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.

I am not done with my changes.