Turn and face the strange
There’s gonna have to be a different [wo]man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
Going back to work on the wards as a registrar, after a year’s maternity leave, was a big change for my not so littlest sister two weeks ago. Not only does she leave her daughter elsewhere, she also goes to work in the midst of a pandemic. I worry about her, yes, but she has her head screwed on and wouldn’t be where she is now if not. She is not a hero; she is doing her job and I believe she is very good at it.
My other little sister is due to start a PhD in October: it was supposed to be April but the start date has changed. That’ll be a big change for her too.
My parents are under house arrest and my own children are learning at home and I’m looking for a new post for September and won’t be marking GCSE exams this summer. All change.
I’ve even cut the grass more than twice this spring. That makes a change!
Cuttings. Not grass. In the still above, we can see a pile of cuttings. David Bowie used this method to write only a few songs but the method served as a stimulus for his imagination and also helped him read new attitudes into topics by cuttings words from newspapers and even his own diaries. Have you tried that?
Cutting up fragments of your words into pieces and rearranging them. It’s an interesting way of viewing our lives: they’re not some polished Instagram timeline, wearing your best mascara, but the blurry lines between segments we see could represent transition. Space to pause, with uncertainty; space to ask questions, to breathe, meander, engage and look around.
Whether it be traversing the birth canal, turning thirTEEN, graduating from university or getting your first job. All these events mark change.
Sometimes negative, sometimes positive; sometimes gargantuan, sometimes minuscule. We don’t always recognise the change either.
Some cuttings are more memorable than others, if past.
Looking to the future, change organically happens and grows gradually. I think of seven ages of man monologue from Shakespeare’s ‘As you like it’; the change from the baby, ‘mewling and puking’ to eventually the older ‘slipper’d’ man is gradual, yet the two adjacent images are strikingly distinct.
Distinct. Different. Distinguished. Profoundly deep. Those are the changes that are the hardest to deal with; those changes that, whether self-directed or not, can lift you up and wrench you from a place of comfort (be it happy or not) to a place so alien and foreign, you may feel lost in a labyrinth with no compass to guide you back.
When self-directed, rapid change needs careful planning and strategy. Rationale needs explaining so value can be seen. Then courage, commitment and determination is needed to see the change through. As Malcolm X said: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” It’s a bit like that with change, perhaps… It’s a passport to a new future, so it’s part of growth and learning.
The cuttings form a pattern, facing the strange, whether planned or not, is definitely change.
We may not be able to trace it, but what will your pattern be? I suppose some of it is up to us to foresee.