If you are not a David Bowie fan and you don’t get the title, that’s OK! Well, I am writing this week’s Thursday blog in a room at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. We have been traveling to the UK now for nearly 24 hours and have reached this resting place just about 7 miles from our house! What happened? Our British Airways flight to London was cancelled due to a crack in the wing spoiler and here we are, stranded at the outset. But it did present an interesting study in ‘Change’ and how people react to their well oiled travel plans being disrupted. This was a 747 jet with over 250 passengers and in a stroke, they were all seatless and desperate to find a place on any alternative flight. Now, I don’t know if you have noticed, but airlines do not tend to leave their planes half empty, in fact it has become the norm to hear announcements about how many air bucks you can acquire should you give up your place on a scheduled flight. Squeezing those 250 people at short notice on to near capacity flights had to be a nightmare for the airport staff.
As it became clear that we were all in a competition for these precious places, the reaction to changed circumstances began to display in all manner of ways. This had me pondering our whole attitude to change. There were the eager beavers immediately on their cell phones calling the airline and hotels to avoid the fast forming line to customer service. There were the resigned accepters of their fate who dutifully joined the line to wait for up to 4 hours to find a new way to complete their journey. There were the angry victims who lashed out at anyone who wore a uniform and waxed lyrical to any in earshot concerning the inadequacies of the airline industry. And then there was that guy who was high-fiving the operators and spreading cheer to the line in general.
Change travels with us wherever we go, but as I heard someone say recently, just because something is on our road trip it doesn’t mean it has to drive the car. There is change that we engineer because we know things cannot stay the way they are. There is the change that is a welcome friend that we have no control over, but heralds a positive turning point we can assimilate and move on. Then there is the change that we find hard to welcome. This may be change we initiate ourselves or as in my travel example above, something completely outside our control. Whichever it is, we struggle with accepting the disturbance to our status quo, the upset of our plans or the removal of our established comfort zone.
I have often used the phrase ‘Constant Change is here to stay’, and in one sense this is clearly true. However, when nature initiates or adapts to change, it has a suppleness to its response, a seasonal pattern to its adjustments. Leyna, my wife, pointed out the way a tree bends in the wind. Because it know how to keep its suppleness, it does not break under the strain. The seasonal response depicts an adaptation over time that allows the right environment or conditions for change to take place. The tree, though changed by weather and seasons, remains rooted in the ground. Here it derives the sustenance to ensure it remains supple and able to change. The larvae does not suddenly become a butterfly, but metamorphoses carefully in ideal surroundings while protected by the cocoon.
Individuals or organizations that wish to get where they are going in life need to embrace change whether it be planned or simply happen in the process of life. My problem has always been to welcome and even provoke change without due reverence for my roots and source of life. For others, fear of change or resistance means their roots will no longer be in a place to derive that sustenance and they slowly die or in the case of organizations, become irrelevant and ineffective. Jesus once used wineskins as an example of our ability to change. When the skin becomes dried up and loses its supple flexibility, the new wine will burst the skin and we will lose all the good stuff! Too much wine, of course, will just make you drunk. Change is inevitable, whether we initiate it, or it arrives on our doorstep. How we respond may well determine our ability to enjoy life, move into exciting new places or how we relate to those around us. I still have a vivid memory of the young man at the airport embracing the loss of his flight whilst giving life to those around him. I later had the pleasure of sharing dinner with him at our hotel. Embracing change often has unseen benefits. Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes!