Change v. Stagnance
The first was a segment of Stephanie "Yarn Harlot" Pearl-McPhee's bookbookbook about meeting a woman who was 65 and had knitted for almost her entire life, but only knew one cast on, one style of increase, etc... in other words, having lived all that time and made all those knitted objects the SAME way, missing out of the rich adventure of knitting.
The other item was two brief stories I heard on Morning Edition (NPR-KXJZ, Sacramento), one about about the ongoing crisis in the Episcopal Church and the other discussing how some Egyptians are growing tired of President Mubarek and yearning for a change. Now, I am not a Episcopalian (I'm not even sure I can spell it right), but I have been following the stories coming out in the past few years about various churches voting to leave their Episcopal diocese because they felt that the church body was straying too far from the biblical teachings. My interpretation in following these stories is that there is getting to be a deep division between conservative and liberal (or, from my point of view, humanitarian) Christians, which is now leading to these churches reconfiguring themselves.
The Egyptians are also at a crossroads, with Mubarak asking the Parliament back in February to pass laws allowing open election. Open elections under his definition are probably different from what we are used to here, but would allow him to continue in power for over 30 years, or may even pave the way for a change.
These stories reminded me that people can make one of two choices when faced with change, either to dig in and hold on to the world that they have got and what they like (and even what they dislike, but feel is familiar), or they can embrace change and gain new insights from it.
I have usually fallen into the latter category. I have seldom been afraid to try a new food or listen to someone else's favorite musical artist. I love to see what is happening with fashion, and have been a technology pioneer over the past twenty years. How have these traits helped me? In my knitting, I have learned a diverse range of styles, can use both English and Continental fluidly, changing back and forth with the needs of the project, or the feel in my hands. I have also been willing to see that there is something I can learn or improve. Sallee has talked me into signing up for a lace class, even though I have been making up lace items for years. The truth is, I am poor at deciphering graphic charts (the ones with symbols, not the colorwork ones) and need some tips and encouragement to get over this hurdle. I am not content to just keep working from written directions, as that would limit the patterns available.
In my work life, I have undergone four major career changes over the years... first I became a nurse, then, after having children and doing some health education on the side, I became a school librarian at my childrens' school. When that job was lost to funding cuts, I became a paralegal, building on college classes I had been taking. Finally, eight years ago, the opportunity came up to become a teacher. I have probably loved that best, but now my teaching position is being cut in half and there just don't seem to be any openings that wouldn't involve a major move (as in selling the house, trying to find a place where we could keep the burros, and parting from the daily support of all our friends, not to mention the prospect of ending up too far away from our adult children). I have had to face that I can either change or become stagnant.
There are advantages to stagnancy. Egypt has remained more stable than much of the rest of the Middle East. Other countries know what to expect if they continue to deal with the same leader. We get used to our work mates and miss them if they leave. We like to know what is going to happen next. I can knit and chat at the same time if I do the same sock over and over.
However, we are missing new life lessons if we don't make room for change. Sometimes, it seems that "surprises" of the unpleasant kind will then come along, forcing us to change, so that we can learn the next new thing we need in our lives. Many times during my current transition period, when people have asked me what I was going to do, I have quoted an old saying I once cross-stitched in a sampler for my aunt "God never closes a door without opening a window". I really do believe that, even if I haven't found the window yet. People have opened a few from the outside, peered in and offered me a hand out over the sill. One such window slammed shut last week, before I could get through. I was heartbroken, but keep reminding myself that I am resilient enough to recover and move on. The other led to what appeared to be quicksand in my world view. I was thankful to opt out.
I am still going up to each new window that appears, and looking out to try to determine if it is the one I should climb through. I have truly loved the job I do as a teacher and it is really hard to let go of that as an identity. I have to remind myself periodically that I am so much more.