Saturday, July 2 2022

Spring has arrived and with it the time change. I have to say I’m pretty happy with it. Neither the cold nor the darkness will miss me. There’s nothing particularly unique about any of this. Our lives are full of changes. As the Earth rotates, nature rotates with it. Human interactions also change things. Unfortunately, with the exception of this most recent turn of events, most of the time such a transformation is disruptive, difficult, or disheartening.

My youth was latent with disturbances. When I was 18, I had moved 21 times. I was born in Kansas, lived there for three months and never came back. I graduated from high school in Germany; in a month, we crossed the Atlantic and I prepared to go to university in a place I had never even visited. I continued this nomadic existence for another 15 years in my own military career. I am now settled; movements are measured in decades rather than months.

The difficulties are inherent in the disturbance. Every move involved making and breaking personal bonds. We were going to become “quick” friends (very quickly), but it was superficial. He was my best friend one day, gone the next, never to be seen again except by chance. The only long-term relationships in my formative years were with fellow army vagabonds. Somehow, I remained close to several other high school “army kids” (dependent children) who ended up at West Point and with whom I served in our careers.

Unfortunately, our own human nature also brings disruptive forces into our lives. People just don’t meet our high and often unrealistic expectations (as we do for them in return). Love blooms and fades. We lose sight of what was once so endearing and begin to see others (but often not ourselves) in the light of who we imperfect humans really are. Many of us have heard the words, “It’s not you, it’s me…” If I was true to myself…it was usually “me”. Deep down inside (when I want to be honest inside), I know that I disappoint myself more often than others. A sad but true commentary on life.

Too often this leads to discouragement and pain. The loss of a loved one or sudden illness (something we’ve been dealing with for the past few years) is devastating. Even (relatively) less significant events (for example, the breakdown of a relationship) can cause debilitating grief. Too often these are self-inflicted wounds. My many bumps and bruises would indicate that I may be a slow learner.

Lest it look like I’m having melancholy daydreams, I recognize that change can also be positive, as in the emergence of life again with spring. As the lyrics of the Semisonic song, “Closing Time” say, “…every new beginning, Comes from the end of another beginning…” Change is both provider and non-provider : Provides the normality and perceived security of the status quo.

Change is also full of risks. It may be “scary”, but it creates the “edge” that makes life worth living. I remember the prose of “The Great Gatsby”, “for an enchanted transient moment man had to hold his breath…forced into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face. .with something commensurate with its capacity for wonder.” Life is so full and so rich when we let it be.

Yet so often we romanticize and cling to what is gone. Robert Frost, one of the great chroniclers of human experience, expressed this eloquently in his poem “Reluctance”. “Ah, when in the heart of man; Was it ever less than a betrayal; To go with the drift of things; To yield gracefully to reason; And bow down and accept the end; Of a love or of a season?

We can kick and resist. We can curse the random vagaries that plague our lives. We can cry out to the heavens to remedy our disasters. We can implore God to fix our faults. Often it seems to fall on deaf ears. Nothing seems to satisfy.

So we are left with the leftovers of the day, whether good or bad. During my trials, I am comforted by the sage advice my mother gave me (and which I have tried to pass on to my own offspring), “Things will work out eventually.” And so they do.

Dave Clark is an entrepreneur and former Councilor of Kingsport.

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