Living life in flux again

Life has lived us for the last two years. Now we need to live our lives again. We will face and embrace new uncertainties.

Photo by Merlin Lightpainting on Pexels.com

At the end of last year’s series of lockdowns in Melbourne, I wrote a post about how we need to take up the mantle of creating our own change as we emerge from our liminal state. We need to reconsider our five boundaries as we set our projects for the years ahead.

You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing on.

Heraclitus

We now move out of lockdown again and we find that we can’t step back into our old rivers of activities. The world has changed through time and new challenges. We cannot even go back to who we are.

A Changed River

Many friends and colleagues are reporting a strange mix of emotions as we return to the world in flux. First, it feels as if our social skills have atrophied. We need to learn again to manage our many and diverse relationships, including the most challenging of all, the casual contacts that vanished from our lives over the last two years. Second, we have the shifting sands of what spaces and places that feel comfortable and safe. We move through the world with new and different practices and anxieties.

Lastly, our work, life and adventures is back, bigger, bolder and more challenging than ever as we race to the end of the year, unravel the losses of the last two years and adjust to the ever changing world. We have old habits and practices to restore and some better habits and practices of the last two years to sustain. The flux of life brings forth new choices and adventures even when we may not want any choice all.

when I am perfect, undone
by hope when hope will not
listen, the moon wasting
to where I need not worry

Afaa Michael Weaver, Flux

A New Us

Clumsy at first, fitting together
the years we have been apart,
and the ways.

Wendell Berry, Kentucky River Junction

The hardest part to grapple with in all this new flux is that we have changed. Every one of us is someone new in this time. Normally change happens gradually and we don’t notice the flux. However, the boundary between lockdown and not lockdown makes the point of transition more dramatic. This moment of reassessment, on top of far too much time for reflection, makes this point of change more evident.

Reassessment has become a theme with people discussing the Great Resignation or perhaps the Great Opportunity. At a personal level the world presents us more choices. We are confronted more often with a chance to exercise our agency.

We don’t often like to consider our agency, our personality and identity in flux. Many people go out of their way to avoid that experience in a lifetime. Perhaps we can find in our many current social ructions push back against even the possibility of flux.

Flux is not going away at a societal or a personal level. The river moves on and moves ever faster. We can only embrace the uncertainties and the discomfort. We need to support each other through these challenges of adaptation to flux. Most importantly of all we need to understand these are our choices, our actions and our communities. The work is making rafts in the flow of the river, piloting our way through the stream and building community as we travel along.

So we need to let go of old questions like “How can I get back to where I was?” and “When are you coming back?” and lean into newer more challenging questions like “What’s the right thing to do next?”. “Who do I need helping now?” and “How do we make a difference that matters?”

The light

above a neighbor’s porch
will be a test of how we tolerate
the half-illumination

of uncertainty, a glow
that’s argument to shadow.
Or if not that, we’ll write an essay

on the stutter of the bulb,
the little glimmering that goes
before the absolute of night.

Jehanne Dubrow, Syllabus for the Dark Ahead

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