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Change = growth

As I have alluded to in previous posts, I am now on the verge of a new chapter in my working life - and in turn, I expect this to mark broader changes. Periods of change, and perhaps more strikingly the immediate period just before change kicks in, can cause anxiety. It can even make us consider stepping back, retreating from the change (if we can) - and in turn stifle new experiences and opportunities.

I experience this now both on a personal, inner level and in my observations of people I work with who are heading towards a similar point and process.

This anxiety stems greatly from how we view change, being as much fuelled by our perspective as the realities we face. I have found the following extract from 'Anam Cara' by John O'Donohue helpful in reflecting on this time.

"The Eye Celebrates Motion

The human eye adores movement and is alert to the slightest flicker. It enjoys great moments of celebration when it beholds the ocean as the tide comes in, and tide upon tide repeats its dance against the shore. The eye also loves the way light moves; summer light behind a cloud crawling over a meadow. The eye follows the way the wind shovels leaves and sways trees. The human is always attracted to motion. As a little baby, you wanted to crawl, then to walk, and as an adult you feel the continuous desire to walk into independence and freedom.

Everything alive is in movement. This movement we call growth. The most exciting form of growth is not mere physical growth but the inner growth of one's soul and life. It is here that the holy longing within the heart brings one's life into motion. The deepest wish of the heart is that this motion does not remain broken or jagged but develops sufficient fluency to become the rhythm of one's life.

The secret heart of time is change and growth. Each new experience that awakens in you adds to your soul and deepens your memory. The person is always a nomad, journeying from threshold to threshold, into ever different experiences. In each new experience another dimension of the soul unfolds. It is no wonder that from ancient times the human has been understood as a wanderer. Traditionally, these wanderers traversed foreign territories and unknown places. Yet Stanislavsky, the Russian dramatist and thinker, said that "the longest and most exciting journey is the journey inwards."

There is a beautiful complexity of growth within the human soul. In order to glimpse this, it is helpful to visualize the mind as a tower of windows. Sadly, many people remain trapped at the one window, looking out every day at the same scene in the same way. Real growth is experienced when you draw back from that one window, turn, and walk around the inner tower of the soul and see all the different windows that await your gaze. Through these different windows, you can see new vistas of possibility, presence, and creativity. Complacency, habit, and blindness often prevent you from feeling your life. So much depends on the frame of vision – the window through which you look.

To Grow is to Change

In a poetics of growth it is important to explore how possibility and change remain so faithful to us. They open us to new depths within. Their continual, inner movement makes us aware of the eternity that hides behind the outer facade of our lives. Deep within every life, no matter how dull or ineffectual it may seem from the outside, there is something eternal happening. This is the secret way that change and possibility conspire with growth. John Henry Newman summed this up beautifully when he said, "To grow is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often." Change therefore, need not be threatening; it can in fact bring our lives to perfection. Perfection is not cold completion. Neither is it avoidance of risk and danger in order to keep the soul pure or the conscience unclouded. When you are faithful to the risk and ambivalence of growth, you are engaging your life. The soul loves risk; it is only through the door of risk that growth can enter."

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