I love the animated film UP, and its depiction of finding love and connection in unexpected places. If I’m honest with myself, I’ve always been a little bit scared of “life happening,” and keeping me in one place, as it did to the man in the film. As change happens all around him, his little house becomes the only quaint thing left in a blossoming city soon to gobble it up.
But, just like in the film, change does happen, and we are often swept up in it. Recently, there have been some major changes in my family situation, and so for the next few weeks, I’ll be living in a lovely home in the countryside, outside of Cleveland. My feelings on the matter are decidedly mixed. Part of me wants to be like the curmudgeonly side of the old man in UP, digging my heels in, and saying I don’t want to leave my beautiful apartment near downtown.
However, I am trying to keep in close communication with the part of me that hears the gentle whisper of change, calling me sweetly ever-forward, with the firm knowing that we cannot go back. Okay, okay, so if you know me at all, you know I love science fiction, especially time travel, and also that I am a photographer who built her career on using a recording device to essentially stop time. So, what the heck can I, of all people, mean when I say we cannot go back?
What I mean is, we cannot, at any moment in time, be less than what our life experience has caused us to be. We grow constantly. Sometimes we are aware of it, and sometimes we aren’t. Sometimes we are experiencing all kinds of ups and downs, growing at a rate so rapid we don’t even notice — like the earth spinning on its axis. When we go to sleep at night the earth rotates so fast that by the time we wake up, our side of the earth is facing the sun again. Imagine what it would be like to not have awareness of that fact – that in just 10 hours, the light inexplicably came back! How disorienting it would be if we didn’t expect it every, single day.
That’s kind of what it’s like when we aren’t aware of how much our life experience is causing us to change. It’s like we wake up one day and it’s light again! Just like that!
And, sometimes we react to the light in such a strange way. “What are you doing here?!” “How did this happen?” It’s as if we’re waking up for the first time ever, realizing that the sun has come up again, and instead of accepting it as fact, trying to argue with it. “This is NOT what I was expecting! It was dark when I went to sleep. What the heck happened?”
Yet, just as the earth is relentless in its rotation, all of life expects us to yield to the perpetual turning of events. I am meant to move. I am meant to start new adventures. “How can it be so?” I start to ask. But the longer I question it, the greater the chance I have of missing a glorious sunrise. I can focus on questioning, on denial, on wishing it weren’t the way it is, or I can see a new dawn and embrace it with love and hope and the birth of new dreams. Both choices are full of tears — the former from the pain, the awareness that everything is finite; the latter from the utter elation that we are always in a fresh, new moment, unlike any other that has come before. Either way, this moment will fall away just as quickly as any other, so I might as well try to appreciate what there is to appreciate, while it lasts.
Life doesn’t stop moving, and it constantly invites us to be part of the flow. We can avoid and resist that call for a little while, if we so chose, but eventually, the changes surrounding us will be so drastic that we’ll have to give in. And, so, I am encouraging myself to move with the flow of life, to be part of it with my eyes open, so I can enjoy every sunrise, every sunset, and anything in between that sparks my sense of delight. Everything I have experienced up until now has formed fresh ability to appreciate, enjoy, and love. Like the curmudgeon turned adventurer in UP, I am trying to relax and let those fresh new abilities take over and give me a whole new sense of life.
As they say in the film, “Adventure is out there!”