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“The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.”
~ excerpt from Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
April 15, 2022: “Okay friend, that’s all of it. Well, at least all of the kitchen. You can focus on other rooms knowing at least your kitchen is fully packed and ready to go. And with that, I’m off. Love you, bye!”
This is what my dear friend and God-sent “sister from another mister” said as she left my apartment on that Friday evening.
She came to my proverbial rescue after work when I mentioned earlier in the day about how desperate I was for help packing up my apartment. She showed up, right on time, and got to work. And two hours later, she left. I was left standing in a half-empty living room, surrounded with taped cardboard boxes, rolls of tape, old newspapers, and what seemed to be my whole life scattered on the carpet.
As the sun began to set outside my balcony window, my mom, who showed up while my friend was packing to also help, stood quietly off to the side, looking around as if to figure out what she could busy herself with.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, as she seem to notice the look of withdrawal come across my face.
I sat down and struggled to muster up the words to match and fully describe what was happening inside me: my soul emptying its contents of hope, filling instead of confusion, hurt, anger, sadness, and ultimately, overwhelm. Instead, I let the tears slow trickle out and respond for me, and said, “It’s just…so much.”
Her response? “Change. It’s a change, and that can be a lot.”
I was moving out of the apartment I shared with my boyfriend, whom I broke up with five months before this moment. Moving out of shared living spaces is a typical and natural consequence of breakups, right?
I won’t go into details about how many times I ugly-cried my way through the next few weeks, not just because I was brokenhearted either. Moving sucks. And for those of you who can say you’ve gotten the art of moving down to a science, let me congratulate you and say, “You’re hired!” I’m sure I will need your services in at least one or two more periods in my life.
My mother’s words, “Change. It’s a change, and that can be a lot,” rang through my mind many times over the next few weeks, and still do.
Yet this time, I looked inside myself and asked the question: How do others approach change?
I for one think I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding dealing with changes in my life, but filling up that time with projects and overly ambitious goals: expensive trips, signing up for more certifications for work and school, changing jobs, moving to a new place, restarting my favorite hobby and starting a new one. All. At. The. Same. Time. Burn out to burn the pain of change. Not good. Not healthy. Not recommended.
How do others experience change? Is there a story we tell ourselves amid change? Positive or negative, our own narrative of the outcome of life changes is crucial to our well-being and happiness. Self-talk, if you will.
Like most of the world, I experienced significant life changes during Covid-19, and not necessarily changes that others may consider significant. From June 2021 to now, I’ve experienced a small sampling of impactful changes, including mental breakdowns, multiple job changes, and the loss of an intimate relationship. No big deal, right? The scar from emotional wounds and thousands of ah-ha moments are important, but perhaps I’ll examine those another time. Like, three or more times.
There’s a lot to unpack from each experience. For just a moment, consider the impact of how even one of these situations can rock a person’s world. For those who have experienced similar situations (job change, breakups, a world pandemic) how did you choose to handle things in the moment? Did you run? Hide? Kick, scream, renounce all of humanity? Or was there something else? A shift perhaps? Enlightenment? There are many ways to approach change. There is always a choice.
Change is a constant. As my mom said, “Change is a lot.”
That meant the start of Undoing, Unraveling, Unlearning, and Unbecoming everything I knew to be true in that moment of life, to get on the other side of the Change, and to Become who I was truly and no longer afraid to be in life now.
That meant sitting with the fiery, searing burn of heartbreak and disappointment that rose from my belly through my heart like an infuriated phoenix. Other times, it meant allowing the crushing eruption and fury of lost time to course through my body when I least expected it (usually while showering), and flow from my eyes in the form of hot-lava-like tears.
In time, this torrent of emotions would subside, in not-so-disruptive ways, and my mind began to heal with an innate knowing that I would one day find myself on the other side of this thing called Change.
Change is the only thing guaranteed in life. Not jobs, nor money, or even our loved ones. Just Change. This notion is an often sweet or bittersweet reminder to be open and accepting of things that happen beyond our control.
Ever wondered how a person deals with change and what it could say about them as an individual? Is a person’s approach to change a reflection of their life’s journey?
I honestly can reflect on the path of my journey knowing the road has looked more like a squiggly, windy, twisted-up trail covered with fallen trees, mountains, ups and downs, and other unknown obstacles, all of which when examined closely, reflect tiny, distinctive markers of change in course, decisions made, and unexpected miracles. Life is not linear.
Change is interesting. It can come on suddenly, like the moment a newborn enters the world and takes its first breath, and suddenly the lives of this child’s parent(s) are never the same again. Over time, the way two lovers, once enamored and infatuated with one another’s every move, slowly grow cold and distant toward each other until they no longer know one another while in the same room.
Both examples are different and yet with outcomes that can be overwhelming depending on the individuals experiencing the change.
When I found out I was being promoted last year, I felt ecstatic, my cheeks were sore from smiling so much, and I experienced a sense of accomplishment. That was until a few days before the start of my new position, when the fear and dread of unforeseen failure came. This was supposed to be a good change, right? Like the kind I should welcome with open arms, embrace, and say, “Let’s do this!”
There is serenity in the tiny moments between changes if you are open to it.
Change is the next step. It is the bridge from here to there, beginning to end, inhale to exhale. On this bridge is a beautiful space. We all have the power to cultivate our own essence in this space. A presence.
This space is the notion I believe Dr. Seuss is referring to as “The Waiting Place.” This space is the great pause and the light. It does not have to be a negative space. We as a society are conditioned to see waiting as a negative thing, and we do much of it especially when we want change to happen.
The impatience, the negativity, the pushy pushing and forcing of making change happen. What would happen in the moments of change if we just held still? Just for a moment? There is peace found in the space between no longer and not yet. We can choose to be still, and just breathe. We can choose to let the world unfold as it is, not sitting and waiting idly by, but observing, asking questions, and living wholeheartedly in this present moment.
Time and the changes that come with it wait for no one. There is a power much greater than me that carries me through all changes. The experience of change, big or small, is found in perspective, the lens through which we view it. “It” being change.
The next time a change comes, perhaps it will be the start of Undoing, Unraveling, Unlearning, and Unbecoming everything known to be true to explore and experience the journey to the other side of the Change. Let it be your next step.
Whether we love change or hate it, embrace change or avoid it, let this be an invitation to become the change the universe is conspiring to create in each of us. Let this welcome change collectively, we do not have to go through it alone.
Be curious about change when faced with it. Pause. Breathe. Ask. Become. Be of benefit in moments of change.