Changes — A dream and a truth

Changes — the dream

I stand on my front porch. The windows reach from floor to ceiling, and each pane of glass frames a view — sparrows in the dormant hedge; white picket front gate; the upward twist and thrust of linden’s trunk. The day is bright, yet gray, and the trees are just beginning to consider putting out leaf buds, for though it is spring, the air remains quite chill. Beyond our porch, past our small square of yard, a man walks down the middle of the road. His head is bowed against the cold, his shoulders shrugged forward beneath his flannel shirt, and his hands are stuffed deep into his pants pockets. He walks toward our neighbors’ house, climbs the porch steps, knocks on front door. Our neighbors answer, and I can see they engage in brief conversation. Before the visitor departs, hugs are exchanged. Soon, I see another man, then another and another. They all do the same. Each one wanting to say goodbye to our neighbors, who have put their house up for sale and are moving.

Changes — the Truth

Our neighbors truly are moving.  Their planned departure has become the most recent symbol to me of change. We hear so much of change — change is good, change is inevitable, change is the only constant. I have always found these descriptions uncomfortable, ill-fitting. The latter two seem fatalistic — as though we are simply the victims of change and have no say in the outcome; and the first one is so subjective — dependent entirely upon who is making the change, and who will receive the results of the changes. But several years ago, I saw a card that contained the Chinese ideogram for change along with the explanation that this tumultuous, heavy word, when written in Chinese Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.10.15 PMcharacters, is made up of two different words — danger and opportunity. Change contains danger and opportunity…This, I find easier to accept, that when the inevitable changes come our way, we have the opportunity to choose how we will confront them — as occurrences to be denied and struggled against, or as opportunities to search for some positive and unseen outcome.

After thirty years, our neighbors have decided it is best that they downsize and begin the next chapter of their lives together. I cannot argue with their logic. They have always been been kind, generous, and gracious, and our neighborhood has benefited greatly from their presence. And though I have lost the card with the Chinese character for Change, I know that while I will miss our neighbors, I have now opportunities before me, only some that I can immediately envision — the opportunity to welcome new neighbors into our little community, to keep the tone of warmth and friendliness our former neighbors have set, and to hope we can expand the idea of neighborliness together.

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