Straight Talk – Living In The Moment
‘Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change’ – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it confusing (and mildly annoying), to walk into a local shop or chemist, intent on picking up something that you purchase regularly, only to find that all the aisles have been switched around?
Most recently, I’d planned a quick ‘pop in’, en route to a lunch date, for some ‘non-paraben, sulphate free shampoo’, which my sensitive scalp insists upon in order not to drive me to itchy distraction. I made the mistake of entering on autopilot and was jolted back to reality, with the realisation that my shampoo was not on the usual shelf.
The situation was going to require some ‘recce work’ as the entire shampoo section had seemingly vanished and been replaced by the ‘hair removal product’ section (not the look I was going for) and it took what felt like an eternity to track the ‘luscious locks’ brand down.
Invariably, I ended up with more in my basket than I’d originally planned during my expedition, which probably explains why shops change the aisles around in the first place. ‘First-world-problem’, I hear you sigh. Yes, you’re probably right.
Admittedly, I’m slightly averse to change and if, as the saying goes, ‘A change is as good as a holiday’, I can’t imagine wanting to pack my bags for that vacation destination, if I’m honest.
Now I know not everyone is change averse. My husband, for example, he thrives on it, finds it exciting. He is like a proverbial rolling stone (not the singing hip-gyrating type) but one that hurtles along not gathering any moss on his adventures. He is in the moment, and I admire that. But what about someone like me, who has eaten the same items for breakfast for the past seven years (and enjoys it like that)?
The definition of change is fairly neutral, and I must admit, doesn’t evoke much emotion: The process of replacing something with something new or different. I mean, it’s not saying, replacing it with something worse, or something threatening. It could be a change for the better, something fun, even.
So why do we, as humans, often resist change and why does it make many of us anxious and uncomfortable?
Research shows that we are generally creatures of habit; comfortable with the comfortable and most of us loving routine as it makes us feel secure. Change can lead to us feeling stressed or overwhelmed as we depart from the norm, or the status quo. It can bring about a new set of possibilities but can also be risky and bring a new set of problems, too.
Fear is one of the most common reasons that we resist change and it can prevent us from ‘doing life’, from experiencing new and potentially interesting things.
We fear the unknown, that which we can’t control due to not knowing what it is that we will need to be controlling. It’s a bit of a conundrum considering that we don’t really have control of everyday life, anyway, but through the regular and familiar, we create a sense of security around us and convince ourselves that we do. At least that’s what I do.
So how do we overcome fearing the inevitable – that things are going to change – how do we let go and just go with the flow? I think we do it together, as a community; and with each other’s support, we can seize the day.
Like many before me, I’ve experienced some pretty tough and traumatic times, but have got through them, with the help of my faith, my family, and my friends. Without their support, I probably would have stumbled and fallen, but they held my hand through some of the darkest hours and danced with me through some of the brightest.
Acknowledging the events of my past, whether they were good or bad, has been therapeutic and has helped me to be mindful that in spite of everything, I’m ok. I even went so far as to write it all down in a memoir, which was challenging but really helped. As a teenager, I lived through a time of civil unrest; of riots, and bombs that exploded just a block away from where I stood and on more than one occasion, narrowly missed being in the thick of it. Then, as a young woman, things changed for the better and I experienced the glorious end of apartheid; South Africa uniting under Nelson Mandela and in 1995 winning the Rugby World Cup.
I’ve experienced joy at the birth of my children, then immense sorrow over the death of their father. The stress of moving nine times in a year to try to make ends meet and sometimes having to camp out on a friend’s floor. I’ve experienced the trauma of domestic violence during my second marriage and the inertia that manifested itself in me, as a result.
Then with the help of others cheering me on, the liberation. Escaping the desperation, shedding the feeling of helplessness, grasping my children and starting again on our own.
I met and got married for the third time to the love of my life, moved to a new country, have seen my children grow to adulthood, leave home and my daughter married.
And so, perhaps that’s why I’m so pedantic about wanting to find my shampoo in the shampoo aisle. I like the mundane, the normal and the familiar.
But as much as I like things to stay the same, I have to acknowledge that living in fear about what may happen tomorrow, has the potential of stealing the joy of today. Each day is an effort to dip my toe in and tentatively embrace what lies ahead (after I’ve had my porridge with honey, blueberries and raspberries first, of course). I’m glad my hubby pulls me out of my comfort zone from time to time and gets me to have Devon adventures or Cornwall ‘safaris in the surf’.
But I am also very grateful for the ‘run-of-the-mill’. That when I catch the bus, it normally arrives at the same time each day, invitingly warm, with its steamy winter windows as it trundles into town. I’m grateful that there is a bus and train service in the first place. I am very grateful to live in a country that is so beautifully British. Where parliament may take years to decide on something but after they’ve argued and tried to outdo each other, they probably head home for a hot cuppa.
Let’s stand together in embracing the inevitable changes that lie ahead, as a community, as a city, as a country. And yes, even changes to the shampoo section.
Written by Stella Nicholls