Embracing the Unknown

Marianne - Poughkeepsie, New York
Entered on June 12, 2005
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: change
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I believe that the ability to accept and embrace change is a treasure. To take road trips; to become a parent; to change one’s job, one’s home, or even one’s outlook on life; to not settle for a life just because it is safe or comfortable; these things are a comfort to me.

As a child, I craved order and predictability; most children do. But life was never boring for my five siblings and me, in part because my mother suffers from bipolar disorder. Oddly, she has become my inspiration, because her tumultuous life revolves around her inability to effectively handle change, be it joyous or tragic. The only deterrent to her extreme highs and lows are medications, which prevent her from being too calm, too anxious, too tired, too awake, too passionate or too dispassionate. Really, they prevent her from being.

I have watched my mother struggle all my life. Now an aging woman of 66, the look in her eyes is one of emptiness and desolation. Her overarching feeling, she tells me, is one of being stuck in a life of monotony, lacking the confidence to make friends, get a job, or even learn new things. Her days, many of them spent lying in her bed, speed forward with little direction or joy, because her medicated state prevents her from being the person she yearns to be, the lively, jubilant youth she remembers. She is stable now, but her spark has been extinguished. Change has become her deepest desire and her biggest fear.

It was through watching my mother suffer and being able to do nothing to alleviate her hurt that I realized that life is change. Holding onto a hope that life will continue on, predictable, without surprises, is mind-numbing to me. I believe that change creates a life worth living, driving passion, challenging injustice, and mending broken spirits. Most of all, change provides a richness in life that I could not imagine being without. Each day holds different experiences, new people, unexpected happiness, unforeseen tragedies.

True, the lessons that change teaches are often difficult. I’ll take the risks, just to keep moving, because its rewards can be astounding. It is change that allows me to admit when I am wrong, when I have hurt someone, or when I have failed to consider someone else’s point of view. It is change that compels me to forgive others and to ask for others’ forgiveness. It is change that allows me to grow.

Change is feared, in part, because it suggests the unknown. It upsets the balance of otherwise predictable days, bringing sickness, hardships, and even death. Those are unwelcome guests, to be sure. But even still, when I think of the alternatives – tedium, immobility, monotony – and I see my mother suffering, I favor the unknown. Because beneath the uncertainty, if one is astute, one can uncover the opportunity for healing, hope and new life. My mother taught me that.