The Times They Are A Changin

dsc00279-2011-02-1-07-18.jpgIt’s one of those incredible sunrises with a narrow band of fog rolling out Tomales Bay and sitting on the ocean in front of me like a long unrolled cotton strip with pink sky right above it that begins to turn cream and then a yellowish color which ends in a fragile eggshell blue. All of those colors are reflected in the waves which act as mulitplaned reflectors so that each of the colors seems to be reflected all over the spread of ocean, in every square foot of it as it ripples and swells it’s way to the shore. And it’s changing ALL the time, so that by the time I reached for my camera and thought to take a picture it was already less pink and more yellow. By the time I am writing this sentence the yellow is almost gone and now the tops of the fog are lit up with a creamy white and the sky is mostly blues and yellows while the ocean is showing off different shades of blue. The beauty of it is breathtaking and the wonder of it is that it is always shifting and changing.

I wonder of Mr. Dylan knew the full extent of his line “The times they are a changin”. Was it just a political treatise or was there something deep and evolutionary underneath? Was it just about the time he was living and the wars and movement of people at that time or was he also watching how a sunrise changes and how our moods change and how we change as we age. How our minds change, our passions change, our philosophies change, our quests change, our preferences change, just about everything we are and do changes just as surely and beautifully as this sunrise right outside my window.

These changes that are the only constant in our lives can either open up in front of us like the unfolding sunrise or they can be fought and resisted and fundamentally clung to with such desperation as we pray for things not to change around us and with in us. Yet there they are, no matter what we do, those changes. Just when we think we are “secure” or “safe” or “know what is going on” that color fades away and is replaced by an entirely different color that is “confusing” “unfamiliar” maybe even “scary”. Just when we find ourselves “successful” or “accomplished” or “powerful” along comes something that changes those self perceptions. Or just when we find ourselves “weak” “inconsequential” “invisible” or a “failure” and we think we have correctly identified ourselves the season changes and the sun rises onto an entirely different world view.

With all this change, growth and expansion going on all around us constantly how do we learn our place in the scheme of things? How do we know what is “real” and what is ephemeral and so uncertain that we can’t even name it? How do we know who is in front of us in any given conversation?

Well just like the sunrise is constantly changing and I am always growing and changing there is another stabilizing force at work. There is this wonderful force that allows us to recognize what is and to solidify it and make it real. We can then build from this place ideas, reason, structures of thought, spirit, and wisdom. We can know, from this place. We can fit things together and count on them going together. We can make plans and lay out the steps and walk that path with a fairly good certainty of getting pretty close to where we were headed. This stability is a really good thing that allows us to know enough about who we are and where we are at any given moment.

The challenge with getting too caught up in either place is that we become stuck in that place and feel at war with the other place. The true challenge in my book is how do we dance in the paradox of these apparently opposing forces? How do we see the beauty of change AND the beauty of stability? How do we evolve and transform all of who we are while carrying who and what we recognize along with us? How do we sing “The Times They Are A Changin” and “I Love You Just The Way You Are” at the same time?

3 responses to “The Times They Are A Changin

  1. Yes, this is life and this is Life. Reminds me of the old Daoist parable: Farmer (in China, during turbulent war times) has wonderful horse. It runs away. Neighbors say, “How terrible! You need that horse for harvest. So terrible!” He says, “Maybe so.” Horse returns with six wild horses. Neighbors say, “How wonderful!” He says, “Maybe so.” Only son trying to break wild horse in is thrown and breaks leg. Neighbors say, “You need your son for harvest. This terrible.” Farmer says, “Maybe so.” Local war arises and regional chief rides to each farm to conscript all sons for army; most are likely to die in battle. Farmer’s son in body cast, of no use for army, so left alone. Neighbors say, “How wonderful! Your son is spared.” Farmer says, “Maybe so….” Enough said.

  2. This is beautiful, Henry! It makes me think of the paradox of parenting and the paradox of coaching too — I love you just the way you are…. You’re perfect just the way you are… and… How do we improve/maximize/develop who you are and who you’re becoming? When that balance isn’t managed – damage can occur. When the tension between the two is held just right, magic and expansion occur.

    Great blog!!
    ~Helen

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