Those who’ve followed this site for a while, or read my guest post at Tiny Buddha on the fear of change, know that I have been planning on something huge and scary in my life.
I’ve been planning on moving…
Now, this change was supposed to have happened at the beginning of this year. I was supposed to quit my job, leave the home I’ve known all my life, the place I’ve loved all my life, and the people who have been a part of it, and move my self and things to Austin earlier this year.
Those plans were delayed, though, by a lot of other crap. But now, their time has come, and I’ve been busy.
This afternoon my coworkers said goodbye.
Tomorrow my family says goodbye.
And tonight…I said goodbye to my friends.
And I could barely do it.
Until today, the move has always been something distant. Something I was conscious of but never thought of. Something that I knew was happening, but never felt was happening. I’m just not a worrier like that anymore, and despite this upcoming massive change, I was totally fine.
But on the drive home tonight – I finally did feel it. And suddenly the move wasn’t something distant I could avoid, or hypothetical I could ignore.
Suddenly the move was real. Suddenly I realized it was…forever. Not literally maybe, but in a “foreseeable future” kind of way.
And I teared-up just a little bit. Because I’m gonna miss my friends so much.
I’ll never be with these guys…as we’ve been for the last many years…ever again. And it sucks.
I’ll miss my family, sure. But I know that no matter what happens they’ll always be a part of my life. There’ll never be a year that goes by where I don’t see them.
But my friends? The ones I probably truly lean on to feel better; who know all my little weirdnesses and embarrassing stories?
Because no matter what I may tell myself, my life is changed forever come Thursday, and I’m bummed, and pissed, and – in a way – heartbroken that I won’t get to spend my weekends with the coolest people ever, doing what we love the most, and having a blast doing it.
This post, then, is about the best friends I could ever had.
This Post is About Change
It’s about moving on in life, about living life, and about how the world and all we know of it moves – by our decisions or not, by our desires or not. It’s about having the courage to encourage that change, and the willingness to live with that change – despite your every fear and reluctance.
It hit me on the ride home because I was reminded of all my friends and I shared. I was reminded of every late night out and all the wee hours of the mornings we spent joking, and laughing, and of the crazy adventures we experienced together. I was reminded of the thousands of days spent amongst the greatest dudes of all time – and of everything about our time together that I will never forget.
I was reminded of myself, and the freaking unbelievably large effect they’ve had on my life – though it’s so hard to even tell them or thank them.
And that’s why leaving them is so scary. Because these people are so unique. Because though I’m so damn social when I’m out, I’m still very exclusive with my truest friends, and these guys I wouldn’t trade for any other.
And so though I know some people where I’m going now, and I’m sure I’ll meet many more, there’s just no way there’s another Nate in Austin. Or another Alex, or Jordan, or Jason, or Joey, or any of the many others who we’re collectively called “The Bros” by those who knew us.
And so I’m gonna miss the freaking countless inside jokes, that would make no sense to you guys and made no sense to anyone else, but that had us laughing for months – the period where we added “eezy” or “eeny” to damn near every noun and verb. Or ended every sentence in “.com”. Or abbreeved every word that seemed just too damn long to say.
I’m gonna miss “2X Tuesdays” with them – watching every Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, and Jean-Claude Van Damme movie we could find while consuming a pizza per person, stacking the boxes as the year went along to marvel at our accomplishments.
I’m gonna miss “24-Extravs”, where we’d watch an entire season of “24″ consecutively (18 hours long for those ballsy enough to try).
I’ll miss “Crank-seshes”, where we’d eye-black our eyes, load up on sunflower seeds and Big League Chew and go take batting practice at a local little league field – just for the sick feeling of cranking one about 100 feet over the wall.
I’ll miss berating girls we meet at the bar about their Taco Bell knowledge. And ”metro brews”. And baseball pong. And boy-band sing-a-longs. And fungshway-seshes. And about a trillion other things we did that are understood amongst us and no others.
I love these dudes. I love them. I love them in the most un-gay, but pretty damn gay way ever. And I’ll forever be thankful I had the chance to spend so much time with them, travel with them, live with them. Because it was with, amongst, and because of these awesome, awesome dudes that I have become who I became.
My transformation, then, aligns pretty much with the time I’ve known them. And so the end of this chapter is the end of the most important chapter of my life so far.
When I walked into my dorm 2nd year in college, I was a dude with no good friends at school. A dude who knew people, but had no “crew”. And that changed.
I was shy as hell, and would stand against the wall quietly at parties, while this weird dude Nate I had met recently danced all night, singing boy band songs overtop every song. And that changed.
I was a kid too shy to approach anyone usually, and a girl especially. And that changed.
I was uptight, quiet, and reserved; unwilling to joke around or be the center of attention. And that changed.
And as recently as today, I had a group of friends I could call on any time to hang out or go out – and we’d have about as much fun as is probably physically possible.
And that changes now.
But things change…
Change isn’t just a part of life. It’s the only part of life.
Life is filled with it. It exists by it.
And yet we have such a strange relationship with change.
We both pray for it and fear it; hope for it and resist it. It happens every day of our lives – to all we know and do not – but we just rarely, if ever, realize it – until it’s happened, until we see it, until it hurts. And when it does, we wish it’d go away – to return at a time and place of our own choosing and control…as if it were responsive to our will, as if it were possible at all…
Because mostly the hardest thing to deal with in life is not life itself, but that life can’t be held still. Day by day, year by year, for the entirety of your time on this (I’m told) pretty damn large, spinning rock, it transforms.
It changes – from the present you know, into something…freaking different.
And so, though there are about 10 trillion things that can go wrong at any given time or point or period – whether it’s as complex as a relationship that ends, a job that disappears, a parent that leaves, or a friend who departs, or as simple as a new city, new home, new anything – it’s so not these things themselves we hate and fear, but what they bring. It’s not what they do to us, or harm in us, or take from us – but of what happens because of them. It’s not the things themselves at all, but their effect – that our or some situation will change, that our lives and selves must as well; that things will be…different.
And we don’t like different. We don’t like change.
In fact, it seems we hate it. We really freakin hate it.
Why, then, is change so hard? Why do we resist it so much? Why is the natural course of life such a bitch to endure?
Probably because the natural course of life isn’t easy.
Our lives have, in many ways, been pretty much a constant struggle – in some form, in some way – as all lives are, as all life is. There’s just always been some new problem or some new challenge, always some new circumstance or some new situation. Not good or bad necessarily. Not happy or sad inherently. Just a lot of shit that happens – always and endlessly.
And most just get tired of it.
Because there’s no rest.
Because all we’ve ever wanted is to just feel comfortable, to feel secure, to finally and at long last find a place in ourselves and in our lives that we enjoy. Some place beyond the troubles. Some comfort beyond the turmoil. Somewhere where it all…just…stops. Where we can rest. Where we can enjoy. Where we can escape. Where our concerns would melt away and our fears would just wisp away. Where we’ll be free of the reality that everyday tries us, or the future that everyday threatens us.
A place where we just didn’t have to try so hard, or worry so much.
Some place or situation where our basic fear of survival need not exist – where money is no concern, or housing is no problem, and we can do all we want, and enjoy all we dream, and we are forever loved and cared for and provided for.
The dream scenario.
The dream life.
And so when we find something – anything – that gives us any amount of comfort, or stability, whether good or bad; when anything becomes to us a predictable and expected thing (unlike all other things, like a relationship we like, or a group of friends we depend on, or whatever), we grow accustomed to it. We learn our lives according to it and base our identities upon it – to the job we have, whether we like it or not, or the place we live, whether it suits us or not, or the relationship we maintain, whether it destroys us or not, or the routines we keep, whether they benefit us or not.
When anything that gets us closer to that ideal change-less life – we wish, and hope, and expect it to never end.
We expect that the income we have today is the income we’ll have tomorrow.
We expect that the health we have today is the health we’ll have tomorrow.
We expect that the loved ones we enjoy today are the loved ones who will remain tomorrow.
We expect that “I love you forever” means I will love you forever.
We become accustomed not to the people, but to the routine of their company; not to the job, but the way of life it provides; not to the relationship, but the stability it ensures.
We become used to anything that allows us to do nothing – that lets us live another day without doubt of what will happen, or fear of what may; certainty of who will be there for us, or certitude of where we’ll be; anything whose absence would force us to rely once more on ourselves and ourselves alone.
We don’t simply settle into inertia, we hope for it.
We just want things to continue as they are, however they are.
We want to be not surprised. We want the evil we know. We want to wake up to the exact same world we fell asleep upon. No different. No better. No stranger.
Despite what we say to others. Despite even what we tell ourselves.
Because the world we know – warts and all – is far safer, and therefore far preferable, to the world we do not. And the great majority aren’t very brave.
And change challenges that bravery.
It ruins the life we now have. It replaces what we know with what we don’t, what we’re used to with what we’re not, what little joy we’ve found or comfort we’ve earned with something else, something different.
“So gimme”, they say, “the job I don’t like, with the people I don’t enjoy, for the paycheck that’s steady – so I don’t have to earn a living on my own.”
“Gimme the place I grew up in, with the people I grew up with, for the roads that are known and the faces that are familiar – so I don’t have to make a life someplace new.”
“Gimme the relationship that’s deteriorated into nothing, with the person I no longer recognize, and likely no longer love, for the sex that’s guaranteed, and the mortgage that’s just too complicated to split up, and the kids who are far more harmed by our fighting than by our separation – so I don’t have to remember what it’s like to live for myself, or learn again what it’s like to be alone.”
“Gimme all the same I’ve known and know. Because I’m used to it – and I don’t wanna struggle anymore and I don’t wanna try anymore.”
The irony, then…
…is that change is difficult precisely because we are adaptable. We become – over time – so easily accustomed to whatever we are given or whatever does happen.
We become addicted to the positive feelings those best things in life give us, because those feelings have, in our regular lives, been so hard to achieve for any great length of time – for anything more than a fleeting moment or two spent laughing or smiling.
But so too do we become accustomed to those things in life that we have little or no reason to hold with any great attachment; that provide us with no happiness, or joy, or benefit at all – beyond what we’d simply want from anything we may have: security, stability, predictability.
And so although this particular change that we so fear now may actually be the necessary change, it’s just hard for us to deal with. It’s hard to see that stability rocked (though it needs it), or that security compromised (though it could use it).
Because deep down we just want things to last forever. Because when you’re controlled by the fate and whims of life, what you want above all else is for it to just stop – if only for a while. So you can catch up. So you can breathe.
But it won’t.
And when we learn that – when that one thing more than we can take finally changes – it can push us over the edge. We become pissed, or depressed, or just plain scared out our minds.
“The story of my life,” we moan.
And we long instead for what we had; to hold as our own once more all those parts of our lives that we should have realized all along are not ours to determine, and never ours to control – that your job is yours to keep, that your partner wants to stay, that those you know and love cannot live forever or be around forever. Most freaking everything, actually…
And yet, it is NOT the story of your life…
…or any life. It is the story of all life – of all we see and know in our time, and all we can ever see or know in ten trillion times.
All that endures in this world does so because of its ability to change.
Nothing in this world lasts forever – as it is now, as you know it now. Not a thing.
Not the health you have, the appearance you keep, the friends you’ve made, or the family you love. Not the relationships you maintain, the things you own, or the sights you see.
All of it changes. All of it ends differently than it began. Different than you know it to be.
Find me a relationship, then, that does not end – by one’s decision, or both’s decision, or death’s decision.
Find me a job that does not end – by your decision, or your employer’s decision; by the market’s decision or by death’s decision.
Find me a tree whose leaves do not fall eventually, a work of art that does not end up as trash one day, a great and wonderful temple that is not destined to become rubble in time.
Find me a nation that has lasted from the first day to this day, a dictator who outlasted his people, a great inventor whose brilliant mind did not end up underground.
Find me a sun that does not fade, a world that does not decay, a galaxy that does not fall into itself.
Change is all the world knows
Realize that every day the sun rises above an earth that it has not seen, and sets upon an earth that it does not recognize. Every morning you wake to a life you have not met, and fall asleep to a life you will never experience again.
The world around you is in a constant state of change.
Every day the things which constitute the world are entirely new. The sum of the earth is made different.
There has never before been a moment that was identical to the last.
And so, you must accept change. You must accept that it will come, and prepare that it will come.
Because you either live with change, or die because of it.
Because everything that is your life now – the place you live, the health you’re blessed with, the people you see daily, the job you earned, the looks you’ve maintained, and the routines you keep – all of it will change in some way, soon or eventually.
Some things will end entirely. Others will simply transform.
What will that do to you? Could you still be happy at all?
The problem of so many, though…
…and the very reason change is so difficult for them to manage, or impossible for them to even imagine – is that they believe every part of their current life to be necessary, mandatory, essential to their lives and who they are.
They come to think that since some thing or person is a part of their life now, than it must always be so in order for them to be happy at all – as if they had never lived without it, as if, in another life, in another world, they would not be possible without it.
But if there is any part of your life that you now consider indispensable and essential to your ability to be happy, realize that you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak. Because it will change. It will not last as you know it now. It will not last.
What will that do to you? How does the idea of it affect you now?
How will you survive, when all else has changed?
We view the parts of our lives as solid and cohesive things. My job. My relationship. My friends. My way of life.
But they’re not.
Everything in our lives – all our lives – are nothing more than a collection of moments. They’re an infinite number of individual experiences strung together like the frames of a movie.
But like a DVD held in our hand, the various parts of our life so easily seem like one thing – one cohesive thing – something finite that is unchanged and unchangeable; a possession that can be missed when lost, or taken against our will.
But when you watch a movie you see that that’s not the case at all. You see that this “one thing” is in fact many things. You see it’s a story evolving; a timeline of many individual happenings that came and went; one with a beginning, middle, and end. You see that no movie lasts more than a few hours, and no scene lasts more than a few minutes.
But mostly, you see that this movie is nothing more than frames, and each frame lasts but a fraction of a second.
And, in the course of that movie – as those frames run – there are tragedies and triumphs, sadness and success. And time passes, and characters evolve, or come and go, and the hero is made into a villain, or perhaps the villain revealed as a hero.
You see that things change, like your life changes.
And you realize that in this movie you are not guaranteed a happy ending or a sad ending.
Only an ending…
Only that how it begins is not how it will end, and how you want it to be isn’t necessarily how it is meant to be.
And so think of your life…
Is your relationship one thing – something that can be taken or lost or ended – or is it not simply one person’s being with another – for one moment, for 100 million moments? Each its own gift to you both. Each its own beginning and end. Each something to be enjoyed right then, for its own sake, in the time of its existence alone.
Is your job, then, one thing? Are your friends one thing? Your family? Your anything?
They’re just a collection of moments, and not something tangible unto themselves.
They cannot be lost by change. They cannot be killed by change.
This moment, like every moment, is just different than the previous. As it has always been. As it will always be.
Maybe this time, though, it’s just different in a way you don’t like.
It’s time you got used to it, though. Because change is the only thing that will be around forever.
Because, in this world, nothing ever remains the same.
Except, it seems, our expectation that it must.
Share and comment below. Before you change your mind.