Reflecting on the Nature of Change

May 27, 2020

Reflecting on the Nature of Change

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the nature of change. We’ve all been catapulted into so much of it.  Some of them are subtle but significant.

Last night I visited with a couple of friends on my back porch. I had not seen them since before COVID-19. We sat six feet apart, had no hugs coming or going, no tea shared, and sanitized wet wipes were featured prominently. The quality of the connection was different, with an air of cautiousness.

An air of cautiousness

A more noticeable change is parents working from home and doing the double duty of child care, and the number of people with no work to do. The sameness of the days, so we even lose track of what day it is.

My friends and I mused about the value of bringing back the “day of the week” underwear - an easy way to keep track of the week unfolding. 😊 

Uncertainty and change have always been part of the human challenge - but now it’s so central to our moment-to-moment, day-to-day existence.

The art of acceptance supports embracing change, whither it’s change we choose, or in this case, change that’s thrust upon us.

The practice of radical acceptance

COVID-19 offers the practice of radical acceptance - every day. Acceptance takes the struggle out of situations we have no control over. Paradoxically, acceptance gives back choice.

With acceptance, we also notice the incessant demands of the little ego, as the restrictions of the times frequently interrupt immediate gratification. But surrender into acceptance allows us to learn about the grace of life unfolding with less efforting, when that little ego and all its demands are let go.

Aligning with what is important to us

Truly there are many things right now we have no control over, but we always get to choose the attitude we bring to any situation. We also get to keep aligning with what is important to us and be creative about keeping these aspects vital.  

So often, the poets offer simple guidance for the essentials. I offer a few closing lines from Mary Oliver’s poem In Black Waterwoods, that feels so apropos to the times. The full poem is below.

To live in this world 

You must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it 

against your bones knowing 
your own life depends on it;
and when it’s time to let it 
to let it go.


Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

Next entry: Pleasure Revenge – What the Bleep!

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