Saturday, April 21, 2007

Death, Taxes and Change

I used to think I was unique in the way I handled change, in that I simply didn't. I fought change harder than anything, and my resistance was as strong as a the water against my arms during a bad swim. I hate it.

Hel-loooo? Project Procrastination? Not so much about embracing newness as it is trying to avoid it.

In fact, I hate change or transition so much that once, when I finished my training practicum at a site where I worked with adolescent substance abusers, I continued to volunteer there twice a week, despite my new practicum job, my two actual paid part-time jobs, full time classes and a dissertation. I just couldn't let it go.

But lately I have learned that resistance to change is not unique, but rather quite widespread. And for good reason: Who likes to uproot themselves from something predictable, routine, expected and secure? I mean, even if the situation from which you are changing is so beyond dysfunctional, to change it can be really traumatic (think: crisis junkies suddenly faced with the challenge of no crisis - one might think they would welcome it, but it is familiar to them, so why would they want to change? )

Today, I had a lot of time to think about a lot of things, and change was one of the the topics that consumed my little mind. See, today I spent most of the morning and early afternoon prepping my dad's house to go on the market. Yep, that means cleaning, gardening, throwing out garbage, etc. My mom moved back in after my died and has been living there for the last two years, but regardless of her presence, there is soooo much work to do.

At one point, my mom came outside and stated (I think tearfully, but I couldn't totally see through the Clorox I accidentally blinded myself with while washing down lawn furniture), "I am getting sentimental about all this..." while she bent over to scoop up dog poop left over my brother and his dogs during a recent year-long layover.

At the moment this was said, I was really frustrated and resentful and thought, "Well of course." I mean, we were basically readying a house she and my dad built and all five kids were raised in, to hand over (hopefully) to a new family to create their own lifetime of memories. It was the only house my family has ever lived and to think of it not being there anymore is sort of weird.

Personally, though, I have had time to adjust to the thought. I mean, prior to my dad's illness, I lived on my own for several years. After he died, I moved out again and have lived (somewhat) on my own for the last three years. So I have had some years to sort of distance myself from it. And also, since having to deal with all the estate settlement stuff and the real estate dealings, I am just kind of sick of it. I can truly say I am ready to move on from it, to buy my own place when it sells, and just move on in life.

My mom, of the other hand, seems to be more emotional about it, which I suspect has something to do with her phase of life and the general idea of moving on, now with all the kids grown and on their own, and her deciding where she should go next. I mean, I can't really imagine what it must be like to spend your life raising kids, and then once that's over, what do you do?

But this is my point. No matter how old one gets, or what phase in life we are in, there is always the inevitable change that awaits us. In fact, as we get older, we have more constant changes, because with each new year you might have a new grandchild or a new death, a new marriage and in-laws, or a new retirement. There is always change.

Now, there is no rule that says we have to like it or do it gracefully, but we most certainly can't escape of avoid it. I think my mom might have been trying to do that, avoid it, for the last few years, and I can't blame her. But again, change is just as certain as death or taxes. My feeling is that the more you try to plan for it (when you know its coming) the better off you are. When you can anticipate it and prepare, as one might do with the sale of a house, it helps make it easier, and maybe not so scary. And then once it happens, you take control as much as you can, reach out to those familiar for support, and bear down.

This next sentence almost started to read: "If I had my way, I would never change." But as I started writing that, I deleted it because that's not true. As difficult as it is sometimes, like saying good-bye to clients, breaking-up with a partner of several years, adjusting to a new baby in family, preparing to share your life with another human being, or moving into a new apartment at the end of the week and living by yourself for the first time in years with all new creepy noises and no one to check to see if there are intruders or kill the spiders you might see or fix the toilet when it leaks or clean the fridge out when scary stuff grows in the drawers or- oh wait - where was I? Hold on...

So as I was saying, though change might be difficult, think of what life would be like if we didn't ever have to change. Weird, right? How limited and confined and horrible and small-minded we would all be. Yuck.

So that's all I got. Nothing too profound, but more just a vent, a hashing out of the thoughts that fill my little brain. Tomorrow I go back for some more cleaning, and I am sure I will have some more insight into life, so be prepared - you might get some Good-Will-Hunting-problem-solving type shit - the solutions to life according to Megan written on the chalkboard of life known as Project Procrastination.


Duane said...

Solutions to life? Yes, I'll have a helping if you don't mind!

momo said...

meg, life is all about change, but we hate it, like you said, because its unfamiliar. i am right there with you, girlfriend. the thing i'm starting to see though, is that without change, i'll never grow into the person i know eventually i'm supposed to be. and that person could be fun, so little by little i adjust, i make a change and little by little i get where i need to go.

i think in your mom's case, its not just the idea of change, its the finality of the life she and your dad shared in that house. that's a toughie, she's lucky she had you to help her out - and not the brother that leaves dog poop all over the yard... :-)