I’ve been thinking about change a lot more than usual lately. Our youngest child is flying the coop next week to move into a 4th floor walk-up in the Big Apple. As happy as we are that his law degree became a ticket to his dream job, my dread of the looming “empty nest” tempers my delight a bit.
As adolescents, we’re driven to test boundaries, take risks, and try on different identities. Those qualities not only make parents eager for their kids to move out, they nurture the courage it takes for young adults to strike out on their own. This is the natural order of things, even if it’s not always easy for kids or parents.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s true for people, too. The core of who we are and our values remain pretty stable over the life course. We expand our knowledge of the world, try new things, and forge new relationships. But the person we see in the mirror at eighteen is pretty much the same person we’ll be gazing at when we’re eighty-one.
That doesn’t always comfort us, however, when we’re in the midst of a major transition. Fear, anxiety, and anticipatory grief are some of the complex emotions that surround our experiencing of change. We sometimes idealize our imperfect past when faced with an uncertain future. Holding onto the past or being rooted in the present will only keep us from embracing the new adventures that are on our horizons, like weekend visits to Manhattan.
Sometimes we need to crack those “past perfect” rose-colored glasses and remind ourselves that the wrong things aren’t supposed to last. I keep telling myself that and I’m beginning to believe it.