I did a favour for my dad yesterday morning. It involved getting up a bit earlier than I’d like on a Sunday, and driving across the city. On that particular day, it also meant driving through a snowstorm where the flakes were coming fast and sideways. When my eyes weren’t squinting into bright white sleet, I was searching through the dark morning. I couldn’t see the lines on the road for different lanes, and other drivers still seemed to expect we should be going top-speed. In other words, it was a bit of a tricky drive. 

But about 45 minutes later, I was on my way home and everything was different. The sun had come up; the sky was blue; no snow fell, and the white-covered ground had turned to an easily-navigable muck. 

The speed of that change got me thinking. If I had driven only in the one direction and then talked only to people who had woken up a bit later that morning, they probably would have heard my story and thought I was exaggerating – or outright lying.

I wonder how often I doubt someone else’s experience because it doesn’t match my own. 

And similarly, I wonder how many times my experience in one instance becomes my assumption about the future. How many times do I pre-judge a situation based on a previous encounter? How often does that hold me back? And what does it prevent me from experiencing?

A few guesses to that last question come to mind, and they’re kind of alarming. To say nothing of all the potential activities, art, food, places and learning I’m missing, there’s also all the potential connection and relationship-building moments I’ve wasted – with others and with myself. 

From simple stuff like not wanting to attend a meeting at work that felt awkward the last time, to worrying about an interaction with a family member who I fear won’t approve of my beliefs, to avoiding a deeper look at some of my habits because I don’t know how to fix what I might find…all these fears are based on a previous understanding or set of assumptions. And while I’m not advocating that we toss our past experiences (and the learning that went with them) completely out the window, I am wondering if I’m relying too heavily on mine. 

After all, I’m not always in the same mood as when I last attended that awkward meeting. I’m not always the same amount of tired as when I showed up poorly in front of family. I’m not the same person I was when some of my habits first formed. Who’s to say that entering any of the above situations won’t be different today or in the future? Maybe I’ve become more blue sky and navigable-muck than dark skies and blinding snow! And maybe you have too.  

This line of thinking also feels particularly relevant at a time of year when people start abandoning their new year’s resolutions. I don’t know about you, but I’ve bid farewell to many goals (or even ideas of goals) early on…often because I failed an attempt yesterday, last week, or last year. But who’s to say a renewed effort wouldn’t go differently tomorrow? Or in five minutes from now? 

I once heard that it takes seven years for every single cell of our bodies to die off and be replaced. If that’s even remotely true, it’s a reminder that everything in us – and around us – is always changing. And that’s happening whether we notice it or not. 

So, if we give ourselves permission to notice and further permission to believe in an alternate reality: what might we do with it? I’m not the first one to ponder this question. Among many other long-standing thinkers, David Bowie was singing the title of this post 50 years ago. But it probably still bears thinking about. Maybe there’s more. 

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4 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. Brad

    Another great post Kelli.

    Thanks for the share!

    As much as I appreciated the reminder how I can get in my own way too often, I want to recognize how this article did a great job of showcasing your story telling skills. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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