Our part of Maine is always in a peculiar weather pattern this time of year. When I leave for work at 4:00 a.m., the temperature is in the 40s, and as soon as I get in the car, I turn the heat/cool system dial all the way over to the right and hope I warm up soon. By the afternoon when I leave work, the car has usually been in the sun all day and the temperature is now in the 70s, and the first thing I do when I get in the car is turn that same dial all the way back over to the cold setting, and flip the air condition on. All that in the same day.
I’ll bet we all have to do a great deal of adjusting in our lives. Some of it is as simple as heating up our area when we are chilled, or vice versa, but others require more effort. After my remarkably successful attitude change at work a few weeks ago, I caught myself yesterday in a thought process that was negative, and realized immediately that I needed a minor attitude adjustment. Nothing major, but all the same, I caught it in time.
They say that people who have lost a lot of weight find success in weighing daily, trying to discern signs of weight gain in the 1- to 2-pound range so they can adjust their habits accordingly before the gain gets out of control. So in one sense, those seemingly minor adjustments are helpful.
We all have bigger adjustments to make, however, and how we handle them can determine how much we struggle in life. I have an acquaintance who admits, “I don’t do change well.” That’s a pity, because life is all about change. Scientists tell us in evolutionary terms that when environmental conditions change, the animals and plants who fail to adapt are the ones who become extinct. Being unable to adjust to changes in our lives might not be have such a drastic result, but they certainly can make our lives harder than they need to be.
One of our greatest disappointments in pastoring churches was their inability to adjust to change. Whether it was a new pastor, a new hymnal, a new book of liturgy - any new way of doing things just fed their underlying fear. “We’ve always done it this way” was their mantra. I realize there can be a certain comfort in the status quo, but change is going to happen whether we consent or not, and we can either deal with it in some productive way (which may give us a modicum of control) or resist with all our might (which can be very energy-draining).
We certainly had to make adjustments when we moved to Maine from Tennessee. We had to get used to the snow and cold weather, for one thing. We had to get used to the idea that not everyone understood us when we spoke (and we as well had to ask people to repeat things). Since we moved again to Hancock, we are adjusting to being without a garage, adjusting to a smaller house, adjusting to a longer commute and smaller closets and less acquisition. These are all adjustments of choice, however. The adjustments were required and understood as necessary, based on our decisions to move and our life objectives.
The harder adjustments for me seem to come as a result of inevitable life changes that I don’t seem to have had any say in. I didn’t really decide to become older. I didn’t make a choice that my 52-year-old body shows signs of wear and tear (although undoubtedly some poor decisions on my part exacerbated that). I watch my body show signs of age, I watch my little kids grow up, I watch myself become a grandparent, I watch my job absorb changes that may not be to my advantage - and my first impulse is, well, shock. Everything seemed to happen so fast! My next reaction is, just like the churches, a little fear. Am I going to adjust well to aging, with its accompanying decline in my mental and physical abilities? Am I going to be able to be a successful mother-in-law? Will I be a good enough grandmother? Can I keep my new positive attitude at work while others make what I consider poor decisions that affect my production?
How boring life would be with no change to adjust to! As much as I adored my children when they were little, it would be weird to have them stay that way forever. I once heard a comedian make fun of a traditional reaction to seeing a young person whom you haven’t seen in a few years, “My! How you’ve grown!” Of course they’ve grown! Why the surprise? The surprise would be if they hadn’t grown!
As I make my various necessary adjustments to life, my role model is becoming Mother Nature herself. Each season flows into the next, never the same, but still it flows. Winter may leave kicking and screaming, but spring does arrive eventually. We open the windows, plant some flowers, enjoy the melons...and adjust, even knowing that fall will be here before we realize it and we will have to adjust again.
Of all life adjustments, I think the most important is the adjustment of attitude, for that seems to set the tone for how we handle the whole caboodle. Now you’ll have to excuse me, as I have some fresh cantaloupe in the kitchen which demands my attention. Eating summer’s treats again is one adjustment I can make with unmitigated pleasure!