Side Note: Before you read ahead, I would like to apologize for the scattered organization of this post. I tried to improve it, but it seems to have reached the highest level of organization my brain could muster for now. Also, it is likely that as you are reading this I am in the process of my first day NYP Children’s Hospital. Wish me luck!
I remember the day that I realized the basket that stored all of my new art work was the same thing as the recycling bin. Sure, I was no Picasso, or maybe I was a Picasso, but definitely no Degas or Monet. Either way, my newest artistic creations rarely made the cut to live on the refrigerator door. If I gave art work to my dad it was stored in his office, or on the shelf in his closet, but excluding a few masterpieces that made it into the Christmas collection, my mom preferred to display my work from the bin on the floor. Once a week those items made it to long term storage, at the dump.
I don’t tell you this out of bitterness. As you can see by my last post, storing those pictures was the last thing I needed to do. Rather, I tell it out of a demonstration of the way my mom has always lived her life, how she has adapted to its circumstances, and how I in turn, without those same circumstances, have adapted as well. You see, the events of our life force us each to live in response to them. I believe people were made to function this way; to adapt, to develop, to evolve. It is one of the greatest skills God gave us.
My mom moved around a lot as a kid. As an “Air Force Brat” she had moved more times before her 18th birthday than most will in a lifetime. She lived all over; the Mid-West, the South, Long Island, Peru, Japan just to name a few. Every time she felt settled it was time to leave. Unpack, repack, move, then unpack again. No wonder she wasn’t saving my pictures right? No one needs to box up a hundred ugly drawings to move to the next location. My mom is accustomed to good byes, thrown off by long term lasting friendships. Change is normal to her. Consistency remains a treat, not something she has settled into assuming.
I on the other hand never moved until the day I left for college, and even so, never left my small childhood city until just recently. Yet, despite the constants and comforts I have chronically been accustomed to, I have somehow, like my mom, adapted to tolerate change well. I mentioned in an earlier post that I anticipate a moment of breakdown or sadness with any big transition, yet it rarely comes, and it never meets my expectations if it does. While I haven’t had any experience in packing up and moving, I feel like it’s in my blood, somewhere. Maybe my brother Matty didn’t get all of the adventure genes after all?
Either way, all of these changes have had me thinking about adaptation a lot. I feel like often times when we are afraid of something different we hide behind our fear and convince ourselves that what is normal now always should be. We work to control our present to prevent the unknown of adapting to something new.
But that’s just it! I think that at the core of who we are as humans, we were built to adapt, to change, to grow. What holds us back isn’t the nature of the person we are, it’s the choice for the person we want to be. For years I have said that my brother is the adventurous one. I am the home body. I don’t take trips like he does. I haven’t moved around. My desire to change is limited to outfits and shoes. Yet, as I started looking into a big move, a big change, I felt myself excited, like I was igniting a part of myself that had been stagnant, unexercised for the whole of my life so far; that ability to adapt.
I saw my good friend Mike last week and as we talked about my move he asked me what I was scared of. I told him my fears; of feeling lonely, of not liking my job, of not being liked. Next he asked me if my fears were founded, and as soon as he asked, I knew that they weren’t. Not only were they unfounded, but unnecessary as well.
So here I am. Sitting alone in my just over 350 sq. foot apartment, I can see all of my belongings from where I sit. I could reach the refrigerator in a step and a half, and if I stretched hard I could get a leg on my bed while I sit on my couch. The city is doing what it does 14 floors below me. And tomorrow, I will take the subway 80 blocks uptown to my first day at a hospital that spans two avenues and five blocks and has more inpatient beds than all of the hospitals in Syracuse combined. My house on Eldorado is empty. My storage unit is full. My life tonight hardly resembles the life I had a week ago.
The same night I spoke with Mike I saw another dear friend from years ago. She and her husband’s oldest daughter Gena was the first baby I ever took care of. I babysat her while the older kids were with her parents in Youth Group; I held her, comforted her, fed, her, loved her. I watched her grow from an infant to a toddler with a close eye. My experiences with her in those years were significant to my later desire to care for babies and children. When she was three her family moved away, our families grew apart. A few years later a bad accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. Still a small child, her parents, and she were faced with the potential of a future without walking.
To me, it seems like something you would never get over. And in some ways, maybe it is. But Sue (Gena’s mom) said something that fascinated me the other night. I was asking how Gena is doing, how she is adapting,
“She dreams in her chair.” Sue said.
Growing up I was always told you know you are fluent in a language when you dream in it. You can’t get more submerged, more fluent, more adapted, than you are when that way of life becomes you in your dreams.
I have had that in my head ever since. The day I moved out of my house, every moment I felt sad, felt like I was letting go of or losing a part of me I reminded myself of it. This week, in the moments of frustration as I bump into each crammed tight pieces of furniture I have said it to myself. Tonight as I am anxious for a job that is new and unknown, I am saying it again.
Because, you see, we were made this way, we were created to adapt, and there is such comfort in knowing we will do it again. To whatever it is that happens next. That is so cool.
I am adapting.
She dreams in her chair.