Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bittersweet Change

I stand in my New York City office taking in that at the end of next week, after 15 years of being here, I am leaving the place for good. I imagine taking the art off the walls, the curtains down, folding up my massage table, standing in an emptied space. I sense it in my chest, a concave, empty feeling and then sadness. It is the deep reckoning of the letting go that is at hand. I hold it in one hand, while in the other, I hold the nervous excitement of change, of possibility, of stepping into a new, welcomed and sought after place. I go back and forth between them.

I recall Robert the building manager with the raspy New York City voice of a chain-smoker showing me the room 15 years ago. On a whim, I stopped in his smoked filled office and asked if there were any spaces available. I had previously been renting one, then, two, then three days a week from a colleague, taking each additional day on a fearful leap of faith that I would get more clients. He looked at me the way he does with a pause as if he's making an inner assessment about whether to accommodate me and said, "actually, I have one that just became available; want to see it?" He led me up to the 5th floor and opened the door to an emptied, bright peach colored space with a worn beige carpet, an old air conditioner, and a window that faced a brick wall. I said, "I'll take it." The nervousness that accompanied me then is similar to what I feel now, but what has changed is my experience, my confidence, a greater trust that I can make this new arrangement work. I still sometimes forget as I embark on new things, but my experience has my back and I lean on her. This image of standing in an empty office in 2002, then just beginning, and standing in it now just ending, I am reminded that this is how it goes. This is how all change, how all beginnings feel...full of excitement, of nervousness, of doubt, of possibility and we jump or we don't. But, I know when we don't jump, we are apt to get resentful, angry, stuck, depressed, or continually longing and blaming. 

I do jump. My gosh, I realize that every decade there seems to be a jump to take, a jump that has to be taken. A jump that proves worth taking as hard as it may seem at the time. Have you seen the short film Ten Meter Tower? The film captures ordinary people like you and me climbing the stairs of a 33 foot diving platform and watching their reactions at taking the terrifying plunge. All significant jumps feel like that. We can't always do it. The disappointed looks from the ones in the film who retreat instead says so much. I feel their agony. To do it is terrifying. To not do it is disappointing and haunting. To witness this process is beautiful.

To jump often requires, what feels like, a saying goodbye to who we were before so that we can step into some new way of being. We take the jump and we are changed. We are not person we were before we left the high dive platform. We are changed because we did it. It goes into the bank of experiences in our body and mind that informs every next decision, whether we are conscious of it or not. And the beautiful thing is that what went before brings us to this place and because of that it lives on. The people I worked with over the past 15 years-- some I saw once, some I saw weekly, year after year, all come with me. Those experiences, those relationships, those profound or mundane moments all created ripple effects. I jump, have new experiences, connect with new people, and the ripples from the splash get sent out.

Bittersweet. Change is often just that. On my last day, I will stand in that office and if tears come, I will let them. They will be tears of gratitude, of fear, of the universal challenge we humans face in knowing that all things change, again, and again. The tears won't be tears of an ending, but of an opening blessed by all my past experiences, for which I am very grateful.