On an early morning last week, I pumped up the tires on my Cannondale and took off for 30 miles of joy. The morning chill required my long riding tights and my breath was visible with each exhale. I passed an elementary school and the playground was crawling with kids as the bells were clanging in an attempt to corral them. The edges of the green leaves appeared to be singed and red hues were beginning to burst. These subtle signals were the welcome mat of change from late summer to early fall.
During my 500 mile walk on the Camino de Santiago, I began to notice significant internal and external changes. After a week, my ass did not fulfill my shorts in the same manner. My belt loop dropped a notch and endurance improved. The initial aches and pains submerged as my body became accustomed to carrying a pack and walking for 6-8 hours per day. Happiness could be found in the simplicity of being assigned to a bottom bunk.
On the internal side, I began to accept and appreciate everything “as-is.” If the wind was blowing I expressed gratitude for the air conditioning. Rain was an opportunity to snap photographs in a subdued light. A coffee con leche with a stranger was time well spent instead of a delay in arrival. Nature became something to imbibe not walk through.
Change needs to be added to taxes and death as some of the inevitable situations we face. Instead of making a long list of the many things that change, I thought about the antithesis and came up with one word. Nothing. If you accept this as fact, then the reaction can be boiled down to two simple choices: resistance and acceptance. One flows like water down a stream and the other grinds like fingernails on slate. All change, even the good kind, grows through the soil of discomfort. Constant rejection to change is the one sure path to surrounding yourself in the rubble of decay.
Here are some of my favorite ways to accept the inherent beauty of change.
- Find the lesson.
- Let go of the past.
- Expect nothing.
- Be grateful.
- Accept imperfections.
- Stop polluting your body.
- Be present.
As C.S. Lewis said, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”