“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
“If you want to be a new man you have to stay in new places, and do new things, with people who never knew you before. If you go back to the same old ways, what else can you be but the same old person?” – Joe Ambercrombie
How does one expand on the point made by Winston Churchill? This quote alone sums up my Rule #6, “Never Stop Changing.” It’s difficult to even think of what I could possibly add. I’ve spent weeks, now, researching quotes and what people have to say. Turns out, a lot of people have a lot to say about change. Yet Winston Churchill still stands as the one to make one quote summing all of it up.
I put all of this thought into thinking about noting the different kinds of changes and all of that. Changes you make happen, because you want to. Changes that you are forced to make. Changes that are entirely to your own character, and changes to other people and things around you. Changes making up bizarre, unexpected combinations of all of that. There’s all kinds of things about change that could be discussed here.
I don’t think any of that will serve the purpose of my rule, here.
Rather, I want to simply delve into what this rule means to me. How it dictates things in my life, or how I wish I sometimes followed it a little bit better.
There’s the obvious: in my lifestyle, I can really only stay at one spot for so long. Either I meet the limits of what I’m even allowed to be there for (sometimes even going over!), or weather conditions and other things become an issue. I’m always getting pushed out of an area for one reason or another. So, as per this rule, I need to keep changing up my location. I need to keep finding new things, new areas to explore. New places to get lost in. I can never stop changing the scenery around me, because I just don’t really have a choice in that matter!
Then there is more.
Over three years ago, I decided to get sober. What I defined as “getting sober” then is different even than how I define the same thing for myself today. It’s not really in line with everyone’s definition of it, either. It still happened. It was huge. I struggled with wanting to make that change for years before it happened, actually. When finally I made the change, everything changed with it.
I had to come to terms with everything about myself. There were parts of myself that I absolutely despised. There were parts of myself that I had to reintroduce myself to and learn to love. Ultimately, I had to embrace all of it. The wonderful parts of myself that I buried behind drugs and self manipulation and the parts of myself that I allowed to develop into things I hated.
This is perhaps the most important part of this rule, left unstated: Change does not simply occur by wishing something new. What is new? New can only be known by embracing what is old. Change can only come by embracing what is, as it is. Without apology. Not even that is enough!
Change also requires action. You can’t stay comfortable and content. Comfort and contentment bring only the same. Again and again. Eventually, you must leave it. You must go somewhere new. Face new threats outside of your little box of comfort. You must become discontent with what you know and seek something you don’t. You must meet new people, hear new ideas, face new challenges. You must be willing to experience what you haven’t experienced before. Be willing to be changed.
Alas, you might understand the rule now. This isn’t just about changing yourself, your surroundings, or anything like that. It’s about embracing what is, as it is, and then seeking something new. Seeking something newly unfamiliar and newly uncomfortable, even when your current situation already qualifies. Changing yourself in the process. Always.