It is a gray rainy day in Washington.
Dark and gloomy, a perfect moment to reflect upon what seems to
be a fairly constant stream of bad economic news punctuated by
a great deal of other difficult and troubling events. These are
interesting and perplexing days no doubt. Everyone, despite economic
circumstance, seems frozen and unclear as to how to proceed and
even think about these days. Many don't even look at their 401
k monthly reports, knowing exactly what awaits their gaze.
back, I noticed on a small marquee the following: Change
is inevitable, growth is optional. How true, how true. In 2001, I read a small
little book that was distributed free to shuttle passengers flying
out of LaGuardia in New York. The book by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
is entitled: Who Moved My Cheese? It is a simple little work that
uses 'cheese' as a metaphor for whatever one wants in life, whether
it be a great job, success, a good relationship, health, etc. This
little parable provides truths about the inevitability of change
and suggests ways to learn to embrace change and to enjoy the process.
Easier said than done.
I thought that the simple takeaways from
the book might be useful for all of us to review during these curious
CHANGE HAPPENS -- They keep moving the cheese
CHANGE -- Get ready for the cheese to move
MONITOR CHANGE -- Smell
the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
ADAPT TO CHANGE
QUICKLY -- The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you
can enjoy new cheese
CHANGE -- Move with the cheese
ENJOY CHANGE! --
Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese!
TO CHANGE QUICKLY AND ENJOY IT AGAIN and AGAIN -- They keep moving
One of my favorite writers is the Danish philosopher
Kierkegaard. In one of his books he likens progress in life to
being a trapeze artist. You will not succeed if you cling to the
security of the trapeze; you must let go with outstretched hands
to what awaits. Yes, it is terrifying to let go at times. The old
and familiar becomes so very much a part of our lives that we can
hold on even when that approach has repeatedly yielded a destructive
result. Unhealthy patterns are rhythms that, while destructive,
are familiar even if they produce the worst possible result. A
wonderful story in the New Testament describes Jesus' interaction
with a paralytic who for 42 years hung out at the pool of Bethesda,
a place where legend held that, on occasion, an angel would stir
the waters, and the first to reach the curative waters would be
healed. Wow. Talk about faith. This man had held onto a belief
that had demonstrated absolutely zero results for over four decades.
Yet I found it so interesting that the first question Jesus posed
to this ill man was: 'Do you want to be well?' Hello... this seems
pretty insensitive upon initial reflection, but then, yes, actually,
this is perhaps THE question. (Not for every ill person but for
this particular ill person.) Did he actually want to become well
and take responsibility for his life and actions? Up till now the
paralytic's identity was perhaps related to the fact that he was
ill and seeking wellness. Jesus challenged him. Do you actually
want to be whole? Was he merely in love with the notion of being
well, or was he actually ready to change his entire identity and
be a different kind of man if he were restored to health. The right
question for the right man at the right moment.
I find that many of
us (I especially) talk about change and transformation and yet
to be different requires an entirely altered outlook. This is precisely
why unforeseen circumstances can be truly a time of tremendous
growth. Remember: change is inevitable, growth is optional.
these days, I am doing two things. First, writing down the things
and people for whom I am grateful. Gratefulness is a habit...as
is the opposite. Remember 'you become what you think about and
Second, I am recalling the purpose of pain and
suffering: to force us to focus upon what actually matters in life.
There are only a few things which really matter in the final analysis.
What are they for you? What are you learning during these days?
Turn the fear into becoming a deeper, better person. That's my
personal mission. The German philosopher Nietzsche had it right:
''THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL ME MAKES ME STRONGER.''
I agree. Those who I
admire most have been tested in significant ways...and yet they
have an illusive attractive quality like a great wine that has
been aged properly.
I'm trying to learn the above. This is a good
moment to determine what imbues life.
Peace in the storm,