Sunday, January 4, 2009

Does anybody else get irritated by the way somebody-out-there keeps making unauthorized changes in our lives?
As the New Year began, my husband connected “the box” which is supposed to improve our lives by improving our television picture. I was his able assistant, sitting on the couch knitting, swearing in appropriate places and, ultimately, reading the instructions before he lost his mind.
But tell me this: what right did whoever-it-was have to decide that our television needed changing?
It’s the same question I ask every time an automatic update on my computer changes something around. Next they’ll be coming into the garage to switch out my engine, or into my bathtub to fancy up the way I get hot and cold water.
As you might guess, I have a hard time with change.
You would think I’d be used to it. In my childhood, we moved every five years. In thirty-eight years of marriage, I have moved fourteen times. But every single time, I wander around the house or drive familiar streets grieving the loss of what I have enjoyed so much.
I hate it when my sons and grandsons get older.
I hate it when my favorite brands change their packaging.
I hate it when my muscles, bones, and memory don’t function the way they once did.
I don’t like writing a new year on my checks.
And yet . . .
As a writer, I know a story has no depth unless somebody or something changes. Unless change occurs on almost every page, readers put down the book. Change is what propels a story.
And, hard as it is to admit, change is what propels our lives. If we don’t change, we don’t grow, and growth is the only measurable sign of life. Think about it!
Furthermore, I have to admit that I have enjoyed every new place we have lived. I have made lasting friends in all of them. I have loved every one of our houses. Every year of life so far has been at least as good if not better than the one before. And my sons and grandsons are all more delightful this year than they were last year.
My dad is ninety-three. For forty years he played golf every week, but once he passed eighty and his partners all died, he started going to the gym three mornings a week. He still does. At eighty-eight he took lessons in gourmet cooking. At ninety, he mastered the computer. He’s talking about taking piano lessons. Change doesn’t seem to bother him at all. And he’s the youngest ninety-three you’ve ever met.
So as the new year begins, I am not making any resolutions, but I am claiming my genes. I am naming changes I’ve already gone through that turned out far better than I’d expected. I am naming people I’ve met, lessons I’ve learned, books I’ve written, and places I’ve seen that I would never have experienced if I’d lived in the nice changeless (and inaccessible to others) cave I sometimes yearn for on harried days.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to go watch a TV show. Because as much as it pains me to admit it, the picture really is much better.
And speaking of pictures, I want to include a little plug for a reprint of DEADLY SECRETS ON THE ST. JOHNS, the seventh and final mystery in my Sheila Travis series, because the new cover is lovely. Even that old book got—and deserved—a change!

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