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© 2019 by Denny Balish

  • Denny Balish

When You Get the Choice…

First off, I’ll flat out admit, I am a creature of habit. I like my simple routines that keep me sane in an often confusing and challenging world; routines like getting up early before dawn and sitting on the couch with a strong cup of coffee liberally laden with cream and raw honey to write in my journal.

Or like walking my dog 3 times a day, talking to the trees while my dog pees on them, or calling my mom on Sundays to hear the same stories over and over again, or eating a fresh leafy salad with baked chicken breast and avocado for dinner every evening, accompanied by a robust glass of red wine, particularly on days when work drove me to apologize to Heaven for using God’s name in vain one too many times.

Being a creature of habit means that changing things up is not something I go lightly into. I’m not like: “Well, hello change! Bring it on! Give me all you got!”

No, that’s not me. I’m more like: “Holy sh!t! What the flick?!? How the heck am I going to handle this?!”

[Side note: I understand research has confirmed that people who swear often are more honest that people who don’t. Just saying.]

Ok, so back to change…I can sit on my butt and ponder, debate and wrestle with a decision ad nauseam.

I can avoid, procrastinate and distract myself quiet happily with all sorts of things just to keep change at bay, like: rearranging the items on my desk twenty dozen times, or scrolling through Facebook for hours, or cleaning the kitchen down to a spit-shine, or picking the dead leaves off my one houseplant with the slowness of a sloth.

Don’t get me wrong. I do welcome change, a certain type of change; the type that I get to decide on and control (yes, I am using that “c” word a bit loosely here). Change such as adding cinnamon to my afternoon coffee, or taking a drawing class, or purging unwanted stuff from my closets makes me feel like I am in charge of my life. I am on top of the world; Maven of the Universe.

Well, we all know that doesn’t last forever.

Sometimes change comes unexpectedly, like being told I can no longer afford to keep my home, or finding out that the client I was planning to call next died the day before, or discovering I have a chronic illness that could either get worse or go into remission.

When these things happen, I am thrown out of equilibrium; I go into hiding, like I did every time I heard my parents fighting at night in the kitchen below my bedroom. I close off, seal up, and try my best to avoid thinking about whatever it is that just rocked my world.

Yet, one can only bury one’s head in the sand for so long while leaving their backside exposed. Change will come a-calling, either as a gentle tap on the shoulder, like a kindly British butler inviting you to tea, or as a spiritual 2x4 upside your backside, leaving you smarting for days.

Sometimes, the evolution of change begins as a quiet rumbling deep in my belly; an undulating grumbling that gathers energy and force bit by bit.

This rumbling grumbling sensation serves as a warning that something is out of whack; that I am out of whack and need to change.

Why is it so hard to give into it, this deep knowing? God, how I buttress against it with every fiber of my being, like facing into the gathering winds of “category 5” hurricane, as if my resisting will prevent its inevitable arrival.

Sometimes the evidence that change is necessary (and apparently, I need hard evidence) comes in the form of a minor calamity, like falling face down on concrete, or having a heartbreaking exchange with someone I love that leaves me feeling like the most dreadful person in the whole wide world.

Sometimes evidence arises in the form of intense mental anguish pinging around the dark allies of my mind; the kind that makes me feel (and behave) like a deranged idiot, foaming at the mouth, wicked thoughts slicing through the air like a machete seeking its mark.

Other times change lurks in the dark like that hideous childhood monster writhing under my bed waiting, just waiting, eyes peeled for an unsuspecting limb to break free of its protective covers. In the night, amid cold sweats and a heart racing to a finish line that does not exist, I brace against the coming of day.

Over the years, I would like to say I have mastered my fear of change but I would be kidding you. It still grabs me by the scruff of the neck, shaking me senseless at times.

If I resist change, I get hurt. If I relax into it…well, me and change can get our groove on.

Grooving with Change requires becoming a dancer, feet drumming, heart pumping to the beat of the music; an exquisite dance, a tango if you like, where each dancer yields in turn to the direction their combined passion is taking them.

When I resist change, I inevitably trip over my own feet and fall flat on my “arse”. And there above me, looking down with hand extended is Change, gesturing: “Come on. Get up. Let’s try this again.”

When I embrace change (and trust me, that don’t come easy), I’m saying: “OK, Change! Let’s boogie!”

I have come to learn that change is neither good nor bad. It just is and the more I learn how to “be” with life’s ups and downs, to love myself through the hard stuff, to ask for help when I need help, change no longer frightens the bejesus out of me.

Well, in all honesty, not as much as it use to.

When I stop being so afraid, Change stops being that scary monster under the bed and becomes my fleet-footed partner with whom I can make beautiful music.

In this time-space continuum, Change is inevitable but how I respond is a matter of choice.

So dear friends, I encourage you, as the song goes: “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you dance. I hope you dance.”