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  • Linda McLean

Speaking of Change

Change happens all around, within and without us, all the time. That was the conclusion we came to when I was discussing the idea with a few friends recently. Change happens continually, all the time with no effort on anyone’s part, effortless and continual. Unending.


I admit I used to worry about things changing. When I was a little girl I was always afraid the house would crumble while I was asleep. Or that when I woke up my father would be gone again, travelling for work, and I’d never see him again. I would miss him so much that even now when I think of that little girl afraid she’d been abandoned by her father I can feel that anxious knot in my belly. I wrote a song about it, Long Road, and the song taught me that under all that fear is a person who wants to embrace change.


I was with my father when he died. I thought myself fortunate to be able to sit beside him for those last days of his life. He died like the strong Viking man he was, it took him a long time. Day after day I watched, mesmerized by the slow laboured rising and falling on his chest. I was sad to be losing him but relieved his suffering was coming to an end. Every now and then I’d look into his eyes and he’d blink in response to show me he was still with me, the great change he faced having already turned from fear to resignation. The last time his chest fell it took me a long time to accept it wasn't going to rise again. I stood beside him and patted his head and felt a tingling energy, a light electrical current, his life, leave his body, and remembered what I'd read in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and exhorted his energy to move towards the light.


Change is the only certainty. We know this. It's obvious when we stop fearing change. We know that water needs to move or else it stagnates. Our life is like water, an ever flowing river made of molecules and energy jostling through space one moment to the next.


When I was a little girl, what I experienced when I feared change was actually fear of loss and fear of the unknown. Now that I'm an adult I know that within all the wonderful inevitable change is the ever-present present moment. And the present moment is the only moment that is real, because every other moment is either behind me or in front of me, a memory or a fiction. The only reality is this moment, and in this moment, I have choice.


What do I choose? What you? When every moment presents a new one, when your choice is limitless, what do you choose?


I realize now I had to be crazy, or immature, to be afraid of change, hoping, believing maybe that I could stop it, keep every moment the same so nothing would change. When I think like that now the idea is like being choked in the neck. Alternatively, when I look at change realistically, as the prerequisite of life, and when I embrace it, I feel sane and free. I have potential, I can choose, and change feels like being alive on a wave of expanding energy.


There's one more thing that came out of that conversation about change. Another song of course. I wrote it with Rose Vaughan in honour of Peace Halifax and we called it, "Be the Change, based on the saying attributed to Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world." The first verse goes like this: 'Breathing is so simple, easy in and out, like a petal on the water turning round. Moonlight on the ocean gentle in her power, moves us in this moment, ever changing tide. Be the change, be the change, be the change you want to see in this world.'



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