Hold On, Loosely
I was listening to a podcast the other day, as I often do on my runs. This one struck me, as I have been thinking a lot about approaching middle age, time passing and my fear of regret. The podcast centered around homeostasis vs. allostasis. I didn't know these words either, if you're wondering. Homeostasis works to maintain stable conditions, allostasis achieves stability through change. This led me to thinking about how the only thing that we really know for sure, is that we are always changing, everything around us is always changing and that nothing is ever static. The only thing we can in fact count on, is that change is inevitable.
In the context of daily life, this has come up for me around several areas where I passionately try to maintain stability. The foremost being my (often grasping) attachment to my children. The fleeting moments of their affection and the time that I have them all at the kitchen table under one roof. I can easily spiral into delusions of messing up parenthood and a subsequent fear of regret, all in the extraordinarily short window of time I have them at home. Similarly, I strive to maintain a culture of stability in my business that provides consistency, clear expectations and a standard of quality. When these ideals get challenged, I want everything to get back to "normal" as quickly as possible. In essence, a subscription to the idea that only in stability one can find peace and comfort.
The only way around this for me is to approach life with a rugged flexibility, knowing that change is indeed inevitable and ultimately we are living life on life's terms. Sometimes I wonder if I make a subtle shift in language from "to have" toward "to be" will help me delineate this concept. For example, in saying, "I have children," there's a feeling of ownership. Having something implies it's yours to possess and control. "I am in a relationship with my children" or "I am a mother to my children," expresses movement. You are with something, surrounded by it, moving with it. My kids leaving the house years from now, does not terminate my role as a parent. That relationship continues to evolve and grow over time, as we change and grow together in each other's lives. Same goes for my job. Saying "I have a business" is very different from saying "I am creative." I am creative leaves me in a position to be much less attached to my business and much more adaptable to offering myself creatively through the business lens. Both scenarios leave me less attached to the outcome of success and more involved in the process of change.
Yes, it’s a paradox. In clinging to things, we don't get them under control or confine them, we only confine ourselves. Clinging to our youth, clinging to our kids, clinging to our stuff, the list goes on. I am working on practicing less gripping, and more just showing up. As my dad said long ago, "...to find the truth rather than win the argument." In all of life's wild unpredictability, counting on change seems just right.