Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Change vs. Growth

“Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking.
Why else would the springtime falter?” - Karin Boye

I have received a bagful of clothes from a good friend. She has gained weight somewhere - her heart, her hair, the toes on her left foot, I’m not quite sure. All I know is I am standing in front of the mirror trying on one chic garment after another. And I must admit it - I look pretty cool.

But is this me? I mean - Me? 

My friend looks stunning in these tops and dresses; the see-through and glitter, the low cut neckline revealing whatever is to be revealed. They suit her, they underline who she is.

But me? Well. I look into the mirror and I’m not quite sure I recognize the person in front of me. She is changed. There is still that same smile (or laugh in fact, for I cannot avoid it!), still the same hair. But she is different. 

Is this why I am reluctant to change in general? Because I am frightened I will not recognize my own self?

A whole library of books talk about change these days: “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body”, “Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life”, “When Everything Changes, Change Everything”. It seems to be the thing to be doing - to change.

Still, I, or we, tend hold on to the now, for at least we know what we’re dealing with. Better to swim in familiar waters than dive into the unknown future. Also, if I always need to change and be different, can I ever relax and be satisfied with who I am today?
Change is closely linked to the word growth. They both signify the hidden to be revealed - the unknown to come into being.
Yet, where change asks me to replace, growth offers me expansion. Where change tells me I need to do things differently, growth grants me the permission to be more of who I already am.
Which, of course, can also grant me a few challenges. 
“Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking,
hurts for that which grows
and that which bars.” - Karin Boye

Karin Boye - Yes, Of Course It Hurts, from For the Tree’s Sake (1935)
Translation by David McDuff

Photos © Grete S. Kempton


  1. I think you should try some of the new 'chic' clothes. Play dress up! Change your clothes, change your life, I heard somewhere...I'm in a rut regarding my so-called wardrobe. I used to dress up for work in a law office, but I'm not working now and seldom wear the old 'uniforms'. I do good to put on a bra (especially in this already humid 95 degree heat). LOL! Hvae fun with your new clothes. If you don't like them, make you some pretty throw pillows with them. (If you can bear to cut them up!)

    A few of my favorite quotes on change. Blessings!

    "They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom." ~Confucius

    "Change always comes bearing gifts." ~Price Pritchett

    "The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions." ~Ellen Glasgow

  2. Hummm. I'm thinking. Change...but when we change, now, in this moment, it might alter us now, but what and who we are is not just this moment, but every moment preceeding it as well. I was thinking this very early in this piece. That me, trying on new clothes, a new look, it would not suit me because of my history. My history is too big to fit into something newly constructed, something created in the now by a decision. So change, yes, but even when we decide to change, as I have in my life, really, the fiber of who I am, I am not just generating a new perspective, but I am picking up the roots and tubers of me that have grown over the last forty years, I'm holding them in my palm, and I am changing with these things in tow. There is never a totally new regeneration. That is a modern day lie, I think. Too handy in our flush it down the toilet and start again society. Our changes, if we are lucky, are growth, connected to our pasts.

    Try on the clothing. Walk about in it. Feel expanded or uncomfortable, and learn more of your perimeters of self. Be glad for who you are.

    Is that you there behind those leaves? Organic you~


  3. I like your thinking about change versus growth - change is kind of scary word for me, because it has connotations of loss. Every change in my life seems to have come with a loss attached - the ensuing growth is often positive, but also painful.

    So this phrase of yours comforts me regarding the whole process of evolution..."Where change tells me I need to do things differently, growth grants me the permission to be more of who I already am."

  4. I don't "do" make-up. Never have. A few years ago a friend of mine made me up. I looked in the mirror ... I looked (felt) like a clown. It was a step too far. Sometimes we need to make changes in small leaps ... try stuff out, you know? Wear it for a day ... then two. Show a trusted friend. And don't take their response too seriously! xx Jos

  5. I don't think that change can be forced. It has to be organic. I don't think clothes or hair or makeup are really change agents. I think what causes us to stir, move, grow, is something internal that cracks open with experience. The clothes look lush and gorgeous. I'm sure you would look the same wearing them.

  6. Marion -

    Yes, I more than tried these clothes on, I actually wore some of them :-) One of the jackets was, believe it or not, perfect for a funeral......(no, not the one where my boobies showed...).

    As for playing around with clothes - I’ve heard actors use shoes to get into their role character. As soon as they have the appropriate foot wear, they sense the personality of the one they are interpreting.

    Thanks for great quotes, especially the one by Confucius.

    Erin -

    As usual you have profound thoughts, I read and reread to grasp the depth of what you are saying.

    The clothes issue in itself was more fun than anything. But it spurred me onto the topic of change. I know for myself that I hold on and keep back, because I need to recognize myself in what I am doing. On the good side this means I develop my qualities within a certain familiar framework, As you say, “who we are is not just this moment, but every moment preceeding it as well”.
    On the not so good side, it means I easily get stuck. I think along lines like - if I did it THIS way yesterday, and it worked, why not today as well?

    Thing is - it doesn’t always work. And the seasons turn, turn, turn..... A green leaf on a winter day would shrivel and die.

    And yes, it’s me behind the leaves. Sometimes I dream I was a tree, just standing there, feet in the ground, body calm and collected, my green hair rustling gently in the wind.....

    Becca -

    Yes, the thought of loss is often what comes between me and change. Even when what is lost contains negative elements. The non-desirable can also have advantages attached to it, strangely enough.

    Growth points forward, loss backwards. I think.....

    Jos -

    Yes, makeup with moderation!

    As for changes in small leaps - I’m all for it....

    Kelly -

    I agree, change can’t be forced. Genuine change is a mixture of conscious and unconscious decisions. Sometimes I wonder which is which.

    But it’s a process, for sure.....

    I like what you say, that the cause of growth is “something internal that cracks open with experience.”