Sunday, May 22, 2011

Change in our lives and how to deal with it

SUNDAY, MAY 22, 2011

Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside. 

- Alexander Pope
From An Essay on Criticism [1711]

Yesterday marked the 323rd anniversary of the birth of Alexander Pope, the English poet and satirist. He was born on May 21, 1688 in London. The above quote by Pope brings forth a philosophy toward change in our lives. Although it was written in the 18th century, it is just as relevant in 2011 as it was then.

Change is an extremely important subject, dear readers, because it is something we must face constantly during the course of our lifetime. One thing that will never change, however, is that there will always be change. Like death and taxes, change is inevitable. Still, there are many questions. Should we embrace change quickly and accept it? Should we resist it if it appears intolerable and unacceptable to us? Can we just ease into it gently and slowly?

The serenity prayer asks for the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. This requires a great deal of fortitude because change can be very frightening, especially when our security is threatened.  In a world of uncertainty, we take comfort in continuity.  We cling to the familiar.  They serve as our anchor and our shield. 

Sometimes change comes upon us unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. It can be a sudden illness or death. It can be divorce or serious financial problems. Perhaps it is adjusting to the birth of a new child or moving to a new city. In these situations, we are forced to take action and adjust to new circumstances. We have to make quick decisions and we find ourselves unprepared. Some of us just find it it easier to adapt to change better than others.

Sometimes we chose change.  We toss the dice and take a risk.  It may not work out but we feel we have to make the effort or we'll remain in a terrible rut.  Often change is irreversible.  There is no turning back and we have to live with our decision.

Number 16 doesn't pretend to have all the answers to the complexities of life, but here are some thoughts and ruminations about change to give you some perspective.


The unripe grape, the ripe, and the dried. All things are changes, not into nothing, but into that which is not at present.

- Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121-180), Roman emperor
From Meditations

Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine.

Robert C. Gallagher

After you've done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion.. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over.

- Alfred Edward Perlman
From the New York Times, July 3, 1958

All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things along you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change.

- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)
From Orthodoxy [1908]

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.

- Richard Hooker, as quoted in the preface of Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language [1755]

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse . . .it is often a comfort to shift one's position and be bruised in a new place.

- Washington Irving (1783-1859), American writer
From Tales of a Traveller [1824]

All great changes are irksome to the human mind, especially those which are attended with great dangers and uncertain effects.

- John Adams (1735-1826)
Letter to James Warren [April 22, 1776]

When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.

- Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland (1610-1643)
English royalist politician, speech, 1641

He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.

- Harold Wilson (1916-1995), British politician

There are three things which the public will always clamour for, sooner or later: namely, novelty, novelty, novelty.

- Thomas Hood (1799-1845), English poet and humorist
Announcement of Comic Annual for 1836 in 'Quote . . .Unquote' newsletter January 2001

Change is inevitable in a progressive country. Change is constant.

- Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British Tory statesman and novelist:
speech at Edinburgh, October 29, 1867

The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.

- Japanese proverb

- Joanne

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