photoWhat a strange-looking word.  Change.  We use it for such different purposes.  Transition.  Loose coinage.  Currency due back.  I used to hate change unless I was in control of it.  I grew up hating change.  I was taught to hate change.  Change was not my friend. 

I in fact I’ve have had a stinking relationship with change. There: I said it and mean it.  Growing up my family tried to maintain a kind of stability that gave them a feeling of safety.  When we moved from East Cambridge to Woburn (wow, about 8 miles away) our relatives thought they had to get a passport, visa, and pack a few extra meals in order to visit us.

My parents had the same friends for 50 year or more.  I admired this.  They didn’t change relationships easily, though were always open to new friends.  I’ve tried to keep up with old friends I’ve had for years, even when they’ve moved on and have no interest in keeping up with me.  Many phone calls and emails later I’ve finally let go.

I got all A’s in elementary school.  It was then expected that I’d get all A’s for the rest of my life.  Those C minuses in organic chemistry and D in microbiology in college came as quite a shock (I’m still not over it.  I’ve accepting going balder and greyer, but how the male body changes in middle age is not even funny!  No wonder so many actors are having “work done.”

And now I’ve…changed!?!  I’ve changed the way I think, the way I live, my expectations, my hopes and dreams.  In fact I have come to accept change as a necessary and important part of life.  I now believe change is….good!

How did I come to this point?

First I gave up being so connected to outcomes and expectations.  After being a closeted gay priest for 32 years and literally accepting institutionalization in a religious organization, I left behind my watchwords which no longer make any sense: stability, solidity, feet firmly planted, unwavering constancy, and reliability.  I sound like an insurance company!  Along with these I’ve let go of any hope for pension support and higher social security payments from my previous life.

Second I struggled to find new employment.  I applied to over 150 positions (I am now an expert at writing resumes).  I discovered the hard way that this recession has not been kind to half-deaf, tinnitus-prone, middle-aged, male intellectuals with academic degrees in theology and a desire to work with flesh and blood people.  I became a life coach and don’t seem to have the fire in the belly necessary to do a lot of self-promoting marketing as an entrepreneur.  I hope my honesty and openness will attract clients.

Third as my dear friend Jay says, “Time is not on our side!”  I’m 62, have lots of life left in me, and recognize that I’m in the last third of my existence on this earth.  What will be my new priorities?  What’s really of value to me now?

fSpring.jpgFinally and most importantly I’ve tried everything I can think of to move forward in my life and have run out of ideas.  Thus as my friend Dickson told me, “Wait for the next right thing.”  There’s a lot of wisdom in waiting and expecting nothing but…change.

And so the adventure continues.  I wait to see what happens next, who will come into my life, what opportunities might arise, and maybe in the process I’ll actually begin to enjoy living again!  What’s your relationship with change?

All artwork is copyrighted by the artist Michael Parise