Friday, December 26, 2008

Are You SURE You Don't Like Change?

How often have we heard it, thought it, said it, recognized it: "I don't like change." You can even tell some people that you do like change and they don't believe you, maybe because they don't want to believe you've somehow conquered this bugaboo that they haven't. And while it's true that change for the sake of change isn't always best, that constant overwhelming change can turn practical daily life into chaos, and that routines and tradition-building have their place (especially in the lives of kids and kitty-cats :)), change is good. I like change because: (1) "If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting." How many of us think certain aspects of life couldn't be improved? Without changing what we're doing, that thinking is only wishful thinking. (2) When you stop changing, you start getting old. One of the most concrete (if not necessarily the most important) signs of this is a person's refusal to learn new technology. Not that one has to or should buy every new gadget that comes along, but when a major shift in how a task is handled or a goal reached comes along, and someone in effect says, "That's it, no more, I'm not going there," they've begun the process of opting out and making themselves obsolete. (3) I love to learn, and the essence of learning is change. Think about it. If you truly learn something, the very least you do with it is admit that piece of information into your knowledge base. That's change -- your knowledge base now contains something new. And with most learning, the change is more extensive than that. "I don't like change" = "I don't like to learn." Horrors.

Maybe another reason I like change is because I write fiction and in a successful story characters have to change. But not just any change will do. How do we create meaningful, believable change for our protagonist, as opposed to change that doesn't ring true because it seems to be what the plot needs (never mind if it suits the character), what the particular genre requires (a happy ending for a romance, say), what we've determined from the beginning is the proper moral or religious stand, or what we ourselves want to shoehorn in? I do it by asking myself what the character has learned. Not that you want your story to preach or teach some big lesson, but certainly the character has learned something, made some kind of adjustment, no matter how subtle, to the events of the story. That is the change to bring out in your ending, the change that's true to the character, and the change that will suggest your theme.

8 comments:

Mary Witzl said...

In many ways, I don't like change. Until I absolutely had to have one, I lived very happily without a mobile phone, and I tend to be very techno-resistant. But I've been encouraged to learn new things (like a smart board, in the classroom), and I really am grateful to have had the opportunity. You are so right: once you stop learning and close your mind, you're on your way out -- and you tend to be a bit of a bore. And yes, so are static characters who never learn or make progress of any kind.

Rena said...

I guess I'm an oddball because I like change. I was willing to move my family from warm, sunny California all the way up here to cold, snowy Montana. That was a big change for us!

Great post, Marcia! I have a lot of things I'd really like to change. I think most people do.

Marcia said...

Mary -- I remember when cell phones were on the horizon and I was horrified. I don't like telephones anyway, and the idea that the phone could follow me everywhere just blew me away. I think it's exactly because I'm not very techie that I fear falling behind in this area.

Rena -- And you must really be noticing that particular change right now. Brrr!

Angela said...

i love trying new things and I think I manage change okay (i've lived in three countries outside of the US)
Interesting post

Gottawrite Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gottawrite Girl said...

Yes, I am SURE! I once broke down in hysterics coming off the school bus in first grade because my Mom had taken down the drapes to clean them... : ) But, that said, there's no better way to grow as a person, just like you say...

: )

Thanks, Marcia, as always!!!!

Marcia said...

Angela -- I think anyone who lives in three countries does okay with change!

GWG -- LOL. That makes a fine story now, but must have really bothered you at the time. What an excuse for Mom not to have to clean the drapes (or maybe much else!) -- "The change will traumatize my child."

Kim Kasch said...

My kids HATE it when I change anything about our house. When we painted the outside - I thought they were going to blow a gasket.

Maybe they get their reluctance to change from me...