By definition, change is to make or become different, to move from one to another, or to give up something in exchange for something else. According to the teachings of Buddhism, the one constant in this life is change. Impermanence is inescapable. We age, get sick and transition from this life, all the while changing in great and small ways along the way, every day. Yet, sometimes we are faced with situations requiring vast change in order to live more fulfilling and happy lives, to be our best selves. For many of us, change is hard, so it’s easy to get stuck in a level of denial which persists in hobbling us to even the most unhappy of situations.
How often have you, or someone you know lamented repeatedly about a bad marriage, rotten job, awful coworkers, bad diet or fat arse? Often, we find ourselves responding unconsciously to situations, repeating the same behaviors, making the same choices regardless of whether they work or not. We continue on this course until it is more difficult to remain the same then it is to change or, something happens to force the change. This is reactive change, and it happens because we are not consciously aware of the choices we could make, not actively choosing the best possible action from a multitude of available options. Instead, we are forced to respond to the inability for things to remain the same, so we make adjustments when we are have no other options.
Many times, reactive change is bought about by disease, divorce or even death. In my own experience, all of these circumstances have effected great change in my life. In each instance, I knew my life had to change, yet struggled with how to change. Then The Universe intervened to alter my course of action. This is why some believe illness is a message from our Spirit to slow down, pay attention. When we are ill, we are forced to alter our lives, to retreat from the breakneck demands of job and family, to remain still.
Sudden blindness in my left eye from severe Optic Neuritis was my most recent call to action, my most intense reason to be still. As an Operating Room nurse, living in Omaha, Nebraska and commuting to San Francisco to work, I knew I had to change. The compounding pressures of work, family, housing and the commute were increasingly stressful and although I was enacting the process of active change, apparently change needed to happen faster. Let me say from experience, loss of vision is an incredible teacher! Here I was, my first day back in San Francisco to work for 25 days and I was having sudden, increasing loss of vision in one eye. Good thing I know how to set up brain surgery by heart, because I couldn’t see! And not all of my coworkers were helping.
What was extremely apparent was my need to change and now….
So here I am, using the opportunity given to me through illness to make a change. For anyone reading this, you are witnessing conscious, enlightened change in progress. My lack of vision has given me the opportunity to see myself and my life in whole new ways.