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Change is an inevitable part of life – or it should be. Whether moving house, obtaining or losing or changing jobs, attending or leaving school, starting new relationships or ending them, getting married or divorced, having a child, or losing a loved one… we’ve all experienced change in some way or another. Some of these changes are joyous and should be celebrated, some are sad and tragic and need to be mourned, while others are some shades of happiness alongside those of sadness.

 

I started thinking about change this past week when I had an opportunity to visit my family and friends in the Vancouver area. It was a much-needed respite from job-hunting, though I was able to submit resumes and schedule interviews from there, so I guess it wasn’t a true “break” from it. But I found myself shocked at some of the changes in myself, in people I knew and in how they related to me. In her beautiful song, Painting Pictures of Egypt, Sara Groves speaks longingly of where she’s been and where she’s going, how she misses what used to be but has to keep pressing forward. I often found myself thinking of this song during my trip, as even back in Edmonton, parts of my life are in a state of transition.

 

One of the biggest changes that my friends and family were confronted with was the addition of my guide dog. Guide dog travel is different in some ways to cane travel, and I found myself being given landmarks (electrical boxes, flower pots), and then Jenny trying to guide around them. it was a bit of a head trip to me and to those around me, who’ve only seen me with a cane… not to mention an opportunity to learn, yet again, how Jenny works best. It was an opportunity to show grace to myself, my dog, and those around me… and I am ashamed to admit I was not always graceful.

 

One Saturday afternoon, I witnessed two things back to back that highlighted the highs and lows of life. A dear friend from high school got married! It was a beautiful, elegant, but simple wedding that outlined the  deep love and commitment that they had for each other. Not long afterward, I spent time with a relative who currently lives in a care home. This was really hard to handle emotionally, as I hadn’t seen him in several years, and he was not quite fully present in the room with us (frequently asking who I was, etc.) On the heels of a celebration of love, witnessing this change in him was truly sad and painful, even as I sometimes regret what could have been…

 

I have seen over the past few years many people I know who are forced to confront change in a much more direct and personal way. Whether it’s a medical diagnosis, the loss of a spouse, or the sudden onset of disability, I can only look with them and admire their tenacity. many of these circumstances are painful, threatening to cut them to the core, and yet many will reach out with grace and tenacity and grit that even they never knew they had. Even those who struggle through pain are strong in their own way. Many of these people don’t have the luxury of many of us; they truly can’t go back to where they’ve been, or at least live the exact way they used to.

 

Now that I am back home, I am confronted with more changes. Being between jobs is infuriating and invigorating, yet I can’t wait to get back to work. The seasons are changing from winter to spring, which brings on some fun allergies, even as the temperature warms up and I can hear the birds singing. In some ways I want to go back to where I’ve been, but it doesn’t seem to really fit me anymore. I can look forward with one eye over my shoulder back to where I’ve been, or keep both eyes on the road in front of me. Maybe I will go back, maybe I won’t, only time and circumstances can tell that. But in my pictures of Egypt, I won’t be leaving out the painful bits, because I can’t live life with rose-coloured glasses… and life is too messy for all that…

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