A Better Life

What I’ve Learned About Change

Hold The Train We spend a lot of time trying to control things, keep them the same, preserve. Most of the time, unknowingly, it’s like trying to hold back a freight train. Change i...

4 min read
Haley Stomp

Hold The Train

We spend a lot of time trying to control things, keep them the same, preserve. Most of the time, unknowingly, it’s like trying to hold back a freight train. Change is constant. It’s going to come whether you like it or not. As a species, we are constantly inventing, moving, aging, interacting with each other and the world around us. Nothing is staying the same.

I know people who find a pair of shoes or a pair of pants they like and buy several of the same one, because they know, like a special Costco feature, they might not be there the next time. I’ve used the same shampoo for the last decade, so I get it.

Opened Doors

COVID helped me make a career change, but it also helped me make some life changes. It helped me let go of ideas I was falsely holding on to. I’ve used this analogy before, but it seems appropriate again. Sometimes we believe we are in a cage, but reality is, the door is wide open. We could walk out anytime. Those cages are in our head, ideas about what is and isn’t possible for us.

COVID made the balance tip from fear to change. Nowhere is this demonstrated more than our lightning adoption of technology. When forced, we rose to the occasion of change. But why is it so hard to move when we aren’t forced?

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Thanks, physics classes!

Things we think will never change do. People we love die. People change jobs. People move. Wars start. Wars end. Less disruptive, your favorite grocery store gets bought out, or the place you always get gas moves across the street to a new building. Life isn’t the same, but we persevere, sometimes in a better way, a better version of ourselves. We discover.

Uber Life

Last week I took an Uber from the airport to my hotel. My driver, Kazem, arrived in his Nissan. He moved his hoverboard and basketball aside in the trunk to accommodate my luggage, and then we headed toward the hotel. Kazem asked me where I was coming from. When I replied, “Iowa,” he said, “No way! I’m from Nebraska!” We discussed what he liked better about Lincoln than Jacksonville. He’s twenty-something, so he missed his friends back home, and he said, “Everyone here does weed and cocaine. I’m not into that.”

Then Kazem told me his story. He is an Iraqi refugee. He spent the first thirteen years of his life in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia. He didn’t say much about life in the camp except he was hit by a fire truck once in the refugee camp and almost died. He remembers his family had sacrificed an animal for their version of funeral, because that’s how sure they were he was gone.

At thirteen, Kazem moved to Nebraska where he saw snow for the first time. “It looked like cotton.” The movies they watched in Saudi Arabia used big piles of cotton to depict snow, he explained. I don’t know why he moved to Jacksonville, but at some point he came there to live with his brother-in-law and his four nieces and nephews. His sister is back in Nebraska. So, Kazem lives in Florida and helps raises these four kids. He also drives an Uber. If you were listening to our conversation about the kids, you would have thought I was talking to a neighborhood mom about the challenges of elementary kids with devices and discipline and getting them to eat healthy. I hope Kazem writes that book about his life. I’d like to read it.

Roll On

As I sit here in my Airbnb home-away-from-home this week, this time in southern Florida, I feel changed. COVID put us in motion, and we are still moving, rolling over new territory. I had an epiphany yesterday, after I brought groceries home from the local Publix — I could live here. Yes, everyone thinks they could stay on vacation, but it wasn’t that kind of live. I just mean everyday living. What is significant about this is the feeling; the feeling that it’s possible to live somewhere else, that it’s possible to survive change. It’s possible to unravel, shake some things loose and walk out of our imaginary cages.

Kazem reminded me that life has many chapters, and a lot can change overnight, but we can make a life wherever we land. We might not change our address, but our outlook on what is possible might expand. Sometimes fear keeps us safe, and sometimes it holds us back from the next great adventure. I’m glad the cotton snowball of life continues to roll on.