“Change is inevitable – except from the vending machine.” ~ Robert C. Gallagher
Of all of the assumptions that stop people from thinking clearly and from moving forward, there is one that stands as a giant amongst grasshoppers. I am careful to point it out as knowledge of this basic life principle is a double-edged sword. Used correctly, this principle is the basis of rapid and graceful forward movement; used incorrectly it becomes the perfect rationalization for not moving forward at all.
The principle of which I speak is related to change. As we’ve discussed previously, change is inevitable. The bits and pieces that make up matter are constantly in flux. Your body, for instance, is constantly exchanging atoms with your surrounding environment. Millions are incorporated into your body and millions are released into the air through your breath, your dead skin cells, your hair follicles, etc., every day.
Likewise, circumstances are constantly in flux. Every decision made by every human being every second adds a new variable into the mix, and like snowflakes, no two moments are ever alike. Political leaders come and go. Nations come and go. Even great civilizations come and go given enough time.
Now here’s where most people get tripped up. You can have a constant, or perhaps better put, eternal vision for the purpose of your life, even though everything else around you changes with dizzying regularity. Let’s say that your vision for your life is to be a blessing, for instance. That vision can stay in tact, no matter what else changes around you.
When your sense of purpose is clear, you have far less “needy” attachment to the things and people around you on the one hand, and a far greater sense of the value of the things and people around you on the other. Far too many people fall prey to the tendency to be identified with the forms of their lives, their material possessions, their relationships, the money they have in the bank, their friendships, etc. and they end up using the phrase “I have…” to answer the question “I am…”
Such a mistake is costly and frequently painful, for as we mentioned, the world around you is constantly in flux in ways that are far beyond your control. The sooner that you learn that you cannot control everything in your world the more heartaches you save yourself in the long run.
Now I mentioned that this knowledge is a double-edged sword and I am sure that you can imagine why. If you know that everything changes it is very easy to fall into the mindset that says “Well, then, it doesn’t really matter what I do then. It all changes and I have no control.” This laissez-faire approach has consumed many people throughout history and it unfortunately constrains to desolation and bitterness.
What can be done with this understanding? Well, first of all, embracing this principle allows your heart to come to rest. You recognize that things change, that you can have an effect while they are in your proximity, that you can appreciate what you have while you have it and that you can maintain your vision and sense of purpose no matter what your circumstances look like at any given point in time.
If your sense of self, your clarity of vision and purpose is driven by the world around you, you will be blown and tossed like a ship in a storm. Conversely, if you come to the point where you can clearly articulate your vision for your life’s purpose, you can rejoice in the fact that you have found the fountain of stability that has been available to you all the way along.
Where there is clarity of purpose, you will flourish. Your fortunes may come and go, your friends and family may oscillate near and far, but you will thrive and prosper in the midst of a constantly changing world.