“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay”
– Robert Frost
Change is challenging. Change is liberating. Change is scary. Change is good.
Change is inevitable
Human beings live in a constant state of change, whether we realise it or not. And for me that is thrown into sharp relief at this time of year. As the light slowly begins to ebb and the quality of it shifts, the leaves turn from green to brown and the temperatures begin to plunge, we are confronted by the reality of change.
As the seasons transition, we can’t ignore change in the same way as during the long days of summer. We naturally draw inwards, which is at odds with what the world is telling us we should do – always live at 100 miles an hour, always be available, etc., and as we draw in we begin to reflect on our transition through the year, and that can throw up incidences of self-recrimination. As we reflect (especially this year!) we can start to play the ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ game, beating ourselves up for all the things we think we’re supposed to have done.
Now while it might seem like we do this because we want change, often the opposite is true. We use this behaviour to keep us stuck where we are. Stuck in the familiarity of how we are now – the safety of that. Because to your mind it is safer to stay anywhere familiar (no matter how unhappy you may be there) than it is to step into the unknown.
It’s for this very reason that we actively cause ourselves pain in the face of change. Not because change itself is inherently painful, but because resistance is.
Resistance causes pain
We resist in all kinds of ways – telling ourselves we’re not good enough, smart enough, young enough, flexible enough, kind enough. Not enough, enough. And in the process of doing this, we harm ourselves. We cause the pain, sadness and distress that we most fear the change will bring, yet rarely does.
But the wonderful thing is that when we know that we are doing this, we can choose to flip it on its head. Rather than tell ourselves that we’re not enough (you are always enough), we can change the script. We can accept that life is in a constant flux, and that we don’t have to hold on to things so tightly. We can choose to let go of the things that no longer serve us, making space for the new.
Use this time, as we move into autumn and then winter, as an opportunity to turn inwards. Turn off the noise and expectations of the world. Become quiet with yourself and rather than berating, listen. Reflect on every aspect of your life and listen intently to what comes up. Then make choices based on those reflections. Rather than beating yourself up – be really kind to yourself. Just as nature does, use this as an opportunity to pare back, clear out and make space for yourself.
Change is inevitable. However, if we learn to flow with the changes that life presents we can save ourselves from a lot of pain.
As Robert Frost tell us, “Nothing gold can stay.” but that doesn’t mean there won’t be more golden moments to come.