“You’ve changed,” he told me.
Whether he meant this as good or bad, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s true. I have. I don’t know that we can continue existing–and certainly not thriving–if we don’t do it, really. Change is something that we run from, something we anticipate, something we hope for, something we fear. But, bottom line, change is something that happens. To all of us.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve spent anywhere from a few days to a few weeks at the shore every summer. And there was a game I liked to play while there. Basically, it was me against the ocean. I’d plop myself down in the sandy water, a little closer to my mom than the waves, but far enough in as to cover my legs, hips, and belly button with the last vestiges of the breakers. My goal was to not move. To stay on my plot of sand for as long as I could. Maybe even forever. Certainly at least until I got bored or hungry, whichever came first. Probably hungry, as the ocean has always fascinated me. I’d dig my heels into the sand and plant my palms down firmly, resolutely. And always, always, the ocean would win. I’d move. I’d be dragged out a little further from my mom and a little closer to the scary part of the ocean. The part with crabs that pinched. And maybe even sharks. Oh gosh.
Finally, I’d get up. Move back inland. Concede to the waves.
I think life can be like that ocean. God knows I try not to move sometimes. Three years ago, I dug my heels in as hard as I could. But I was dragged out to the “scary part,” anyway. Sharks and crabs galore, let me tell you. And while there, I changed. I learned to swim, I guess. I realized that the world is vastly bigger than ever I’d imagined; that just because a shark might scare you and even hurt you, well, they’re not the enemy, really. The enemy is within yourself. It’s living in fear of the sharks. It’s standing still forever, maybe. It’s never venturing into the ocean again.
So you go back, but you’re different now. The people who tell you that you’ve changed are right. But the change isn’t bad, it just is. You don’t look at sea glass and judge it for not being a bottle anymore. You understand that the shape of it, the very feel of it had to give way to thousands upon thousands of waves running over it. The waves were nobody’s fault–least of all the piece of glass.
Some people call the sea glass beautiful; some people miss the bottle.
You aren’t in a position to judge, really. Just like you can stare at the reflection of your face for hours, but whether you decide your brown eyes are good or bad is irrelevant. They just are; they’re brown just like your mom’s, and you might as well spend those hours doing something decidedly good, like planting a garden or writing a letter, anyway.
But my point is that, yes, I’ve changed. We change. We find ourselves in places that we never could have imagined a year ago, and while here, we improvise. We dig deep into our pockets and hope to God that we come up with more than just a nickel’s worth of contributions to a world we still haven’t grown quite used to. Because just when we think we might, we wake up to a difference. And it’s this age old dance that even the fish and the birds and the four legged creatures have exacted. The world around us changes, its rhythm tightens and excels and we match it as best we can. Life dips us and we throw our weight into the movement and trust that someone will catch us. Just like He always has. The toddler starts walking and suddenly doesn’t have as many offers to be carried anymore, because he’s changed. You’re single, you’re together, you’re living with family, you’re living with strangers, you’re making money, you’re counting change, the great light of you remains lit, but what it illuminates is ever, ever changing. It feels confusing; it’s just a feeling, though, and you’re gonna be fine.
You change, you grow, you’re you.
And yes, you agree: you’ve changed.