Just keep the change | AspenTimes.com

Just keep the change

Roger Marolt

You show me a person who embraces change without a financial stake in it, and I’ll show you a liar, a sufferer or a corpse. Content people don’t find hope in change, or at least I don’t think they do.I know most of this from experience. The part about being dead I am only guessing at. It has been pointed out lately that I may be a changeophobic. For those of you who don’t know, that is a word I made up for the imaginary medical condition for which the major symptom is the fear of change. Just so you know, I take criticism to heart. Like everyone else, I don’t want to be the only one having anxiety attacks each time I see a real estate broker shaking hands with a timeshare developer. Spontaneous perspiration rings are embarrassing. Either we are all going to get freaked out together, or I am going to get a grip on myself. Feeling badly about this, I typed “fear of change” into my search engine and it came back with 23,200,000 hits! From what I gather, a good number of these sites contain articles, speeches, songs and dances from experts telling us that we have nothing to fear from change. With this many authorities opining that we have nothing to fear, I can only conclude one thing: We have plenty to fear! (I’m already feeling better.) If you really think about it, this makes perfect sense. It is ingrained into our nature to be nervous about change. It’s the survival instinct that never goes dormant. There’s a good reason for it to: Change is the thing that will eventually kill us! It always has been and it always will be. Beginning the minute we are born, change begins to drag us, day by day, toward the end of our lives. It stalks us relentlessly, so stealthily that one day you end up underneath six feet of dirt and you don’t even know it. You can blame a million different things for your eventual demise, but it can all be lumped under the general heading of “Change.”Change doesn’t stop even after we’ve taken our last breaths either. Change works so incessantly that the only thing in doubt after you die is whether your legacy will decompose more quickly than your body, regardless of how much time you spent during your life making each look so good.When I was younger I didn’t mind change so much. It seemed exciting. Throughout my childhood, new and exciting responsibilities were handed out to me regularly. Every day offered new and thrilling things to learn about and explore. I couldn’t wait to become a grownup so I could do more with greater freedom. Change promised me that one day I would see the world! Yes, older people warned me about the folly of such a wish, but I couldn’t wait until I could grow a mustache anyway.I remember the day I developed my first muscle. It happened shortly after my voice started to crack and get deeper. Acne broke out on my face. I was so excited that I almost took the day off from work.That marked the brief time in my life when actual good change more than offset the bad kind. It was great to get an education, for example. I needed to move from a studio apartment into a house. I’m glad that I found the perfect person to share my life with and tricked her into marrying me. Without my children, my life would never be complete. Giving up those two decades of my life in a flash was definitely worth it.I look longingly back on those days. I now know that those kinds of things don’t go on forever though. Spontaneous muscle growth is one of the excitements of youth that fools us at an early age to look forward to change. The sweet prospect of eventually falling in love makes us dream about tomorrow. I think these small tricks are nature’s way of keeping us from living in terror. Those good changes distract us from realizing how quickly bad change is stealing it all away and from realizing how very close we all are to eating most of our meals though a straw at an assisted living center cafeteria.I have three wonderful, healthy kids. I am married to a beautiful woman. My house is cozy and I always look forward to coming home. My friends give me a hell of a hard time, but their attention makes me feel good. I live in my hometown! I have (almost) everything I could ever want. Now I’m at the point where the only thing change can do for me is screw things up! I’m even suspect of things that are seemingly good changes. (Age makes all of us skeptical.) Go ahead and quit smoking tomorrow. Guess where that will get you? You’ll be healthier, but you’ll also be one day closer to death no matter how you slice it. See what I mean?I’m at the age now where even vigorous exercise doesn’t bring positive change. All the energy I spend lifting weights and riding my bike only serve to slow down the sags behind my arms and above my belt. Just retarding those changes are major victories and the effort keeps me in good standing with my gym friends. I rejoice because I’m not as weak as change would otherwise leave me!But, my ultimate test for almost everything boils down to some variation of this: On my death bed, looking over my own withered and used-up body, will I wish that it had changed more during my life? Will I rejoice about all the things I will be leaving behind or that were taken by change before me? I doubt it!And that thought can only lead me to one conclusion: It’s normal to resist change! Change takes time, and time is something we have limited quantities of. As true as this is though, time is also money. With a little cross-canceling it’s easy to see then that change also equals money. And that leaves us with a choice. We can use our time to make change, or we can spend it on other things. Either way, ultimately it’s just change.Roger Marolt could not have done a better job on this even if he tried. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com