Moving on does not always equate to giving up

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Willie Nelson has come a long way. He famously lit up on the roof of the White House with Chip Carter while the latter’s father was the leader of the free world. For “health reasons,” Nelson recently quit smoking weed. 

Last  week, Senator Kamala Harris, a Democratic star whose exceptional debate performance doubled her poll numbers over the summer, announced she was pulling out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president. “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” she said in a statement.

Outside my stuffy urban bedroom, things are changing, too. There’s a shimmering layer of snow about ankle-deep on the porch. At least there was before the rain. The cats get chilly and huddle under the bed for warmth. It’s pitch black by the time my last class begins. The towers I can see from my porch suck down pockets of raw, fast wind.

My grandmother, fast approaching 95, told me when I was very young that the only constant is change. I didn’t really understand what she meant. Children don’t speak in paradoxes; wise people do. 

Almost a decade and a half later, after watching Nelson quit weed, Harris fade silently and a warm summer turn into a bitter winter, I think I’m beginning to understand.

As a rule, people are creatures of habit. They generally have some order to their lives; a wake-up time, bedtime, dinner time, lunch break, smoke break,  etc. Something in their lives, be it a relationship or habit or job or class schedule, is consistent. Most don’t recognize it, but that consistency is fueling a lot of their personal stability. 

When that consistency is interrupted, it becomes fiercely noticeable. When the alcoholic stops drinking, they go into withdrawal. When the student graduates, they become nervous. Interruptions to our way of life both consciously and unconsciously interrupt the rest of our lives.

When the world tells you it’s time to move on, move on. Do not cling to a way of life that has outlived its usefulness, its productivity, its value. Humans have a tendency towards whatever we’re comfortable with; that’s why so many of us hide behind habits like serial monogamy, substance abuse, self-loathing and religion, to name a few.

The cardinal sign of maturity is the ability to move on without fear, anger and shame, to be able to let go all at once when the time is right. Not many of us — at least not me — are able to do this well the first, second, even fifth time. Learning to accept change as a constant is a life-long process. Few of us will ever master it fully.

Now more than ever, as Willie Nelson quits toking, Kamala goes back to the Senate and the snow begins to fall, we must learn to embrace change with open arms.