by Caren Crane
I have lately been reflecting on the fact that most of us do not like change. I certainly do not. I don’t rush toward it with abandon, welcome it like a long-lost lover nor make up a guest room for it when it arrives. I was reminded of this when watching Return to Cranford, a wonderful early Victorian-set BBC series based on the writing of Elizabeth Gaskell (author of North and South!). The original Cranford series was delightful and I enjoyed the reprise very much. Both series, however, dealt with the staid and traditional people of Cranford having to deal with a Dread Change – the coming of the railroad to their village.
It is hard for me to imagine what a huge impact this had on rural England, but the series did a good job of making me empathize with their plight. I had no trouble believing the changes in their lives shook them to the core, for the stages of change are like the stages of grieving for me.
1. DENIAL – I usually start out resisting change at a visceral level, by denying it is really happening. It cannot. It will not! Only when my buried head, the fingers stuffed in my ears and the chanting of “la la la” don’t hold it at bay do I move on to the next step.
2. ANGER – Next is the tempestuous storm of change-induced anger. Why is this happening to me and mine? It is wrong! Unfair! Undeserved! Inconvenient? Um, okay, that’s the crux of it. Change is most inconvenient, especially when it means changing things I enjoy and am comfortable with, like my daily routine or spending habits.
3. BARGAINING – This is a short-lived stage of change for me, since I am a pitiful bargainer at the best of times. I never bargain with God, since I figure He knows me too well to believe any promises made in the heat of the moment or from abject terror of the unknown. I tend not to bargain with people, either, which may be healthy or may just mean I miss out on some good deals. Hm.
4. DEPRESSION – Next comes a stage I’m really, really good at. I can do depression with the best of them. I am the Queen of the Lament! The only problem is, I get bored with depression in a hurry and my natural optimism buoys me back up. Job loss hasn’t kept me down long, either my or my husband’s, and having to move hasn’t done so either. I’m sure something really horrible like losing my house could put me in a real funk, but I’d find a silver lining eventually. My husband doesn’t understand the optimism thing, but it’s very real allows me to pull myself up by my bootstraps no matter what happens.
5. ACCEPTANCE – The taste of acceptance is often bittersweet. Sometimes far more bitter than sweet. Still, acceptance of change does make it easier to handle. I love peace and for things to be settled and calm, so the sooner I accept whatever change comes my way, the better off I am.
Still, I feel for my friends in Cranford. Those great steel machines, belching smoke and steam into the once-pristine air of Cheshire must have upset the dear people to no end. But change, like death and taxes, is inevitable no matter where we live and can often be beneficial.
In high school, we moved in the middle of my junior year and the middle of my senior year. Two Dread Changes. While there were many difficulties as a result (hello, no junior or senior prom for me!), I think overall the changes were good ones. Better high school the first time and better lifestyle the second time. I have loved my 28 years in North Carolina (not to mention my native NC husband) – a state I might never even have visited had it not been for the second Dread Change!
Are you a change lover or a change denier? Do you leap to catch the curveballs life throws you or do you duck? Have you had a change that seemed bad at first, but turned out to be great in the end? Do share!