Sitting in my garden in springtime thinking about change. So much change is happening. Bare trees are shooting out thousands of new leaves. Spring flowers are all over the garden – clivias, azaleas, irises, geraniums, hedge flowers of various kinds, and more.
And yet, the Jacaranda trees are starting to lose their leaves – a second autumn as they turn yellow and brown and fall to the ground. Its purple flower will burst forth in November.
There is always lots of change in our garden. This change is amplified by many varieties of birds who fill the morning air with their cacophony of sounds to greet the day.
Change can be wonderful
The change in our garden has a rhythm. Not a daily rhythm, but a seasonal rhythm. After living here for almost 2 years we can now predict the changes as they are about to happen. We know which plants flower in spring, or summer or even winter. We always have flowers because the person who built the garden understood plants and the seasons.
Change is wonderful and healthy for us when there is an underlying rhythm. It nourishes the soul. Life is enriched by the changes of the seasons.
Disruptive change can be traumatic
If you prune a hedge too fiercely and at the wrong time it can be lethal to a plant. If you uproot a plant and replant it somewhere else without appropriate care, it can be damaging to the plant.
In business and society, we have become used to all kinds of change. Much of that change is helpful to our lives and makes us glad we did not live in a time before the invention of the refrigerator or the internet or penicillin or other advances in technology or medicine.
Disruptive change is dislocating. It traumatises people. Like cutting down your favourite tree or digging up a whole garden bed without a plan for something better.
In our world today, so many people are experiencing change without any underlying rhythms. To change the metaphor, many are like a vessel adrift on a surging ocean with no anchor to hold them. No fixed points to hold them so they feel rudderless in life. They lose their sense of true north adrift on a sea that is churning and restless and always changing. This change feels relentless and is soul destroying for those who have no anchors.
We all need anchors
There are two types of anchors we need to hold us in life. These anchors will help us even during what feels like the most uncertain year of our lives in 2020.
1.External anchors – those people and places that keep us grounded and help us to be our true selves.
- Strong relationships – like a great marriage or a wonderful BFF
- Family – when it works well and is always safe
- A sense of place – where we feel ‘at home’ – this may be place of origin, a country town in which you grew up, a type of landscape (e.g. I love mountains)
- A group of close friends – a weekend away with old friends with whom you can laugh and cry and just be yourself
- Your garden – this is our happy place, a place to be and feel grounded
- Your house – a house that is not just an investment but truly a home
- Your nation – after 12 months living overseas when I was younger, it was strangely comforting to be back in Australia, and to enjoy the rugged beauty of the Australian bush.
- Faith– in God who is bigger and greater than you and will hold you and help you when you pray. For me, my relationship with God provides a place of refuge and of rest for my soul.
- A well-developed worldview – that helps you make sense of life with all its complexity, and of human beings with all their mix of potential for good and evil. It is important to have thought through an intellectual response to the world around you, not just a blind faith that hopes all will be well in the universe somehow. Otherwise our resilience can be very low to unexpected change, especially tragedy.
- A sense of purpose – we humans need a sense of purpose about our lives. This is often linked to our work and gives us a sense of meaning and value.
- A daily routine – it may sound trite but there is great comfort in being able to control some things when everything around us feels out of control. Those who have adapted best to the recent change to work from home (wfh) are those who have been able to reset their daily routine so that they have clear boundaries around when they are working and when they are relaxing and available to their family.
In my view, we all need some internal and external anchors at work in our lives, especially in times of great change. We need both. We need resources within ourselves that hold us. And we know without a friend or a place to belong, we are unlikely to make it on our own.
If you are feeling totally traumatised or dislocated by the changes going on all around you this year, my hope for you is that you will find the internal and external anchors that will help you to find yourself again.
If you need some help with that please reach out to me and I will be happy to help you think about your unique situation.