For those who haven't watched it, the show chronicles a gentried family living in the beautiful Downton Abbey (actually Highclere Castle) in the Yorkshire region of England. The story lines include not only the lord and lady and their family but also the drama that occurs among the servants and staff of the estate. It's a great show.
The story is set during the years leading up to and including the first World War when unprecidented change was occuring all over the world. The world was at war, women had won the right to vote, the lines between such well established gender and societal roles were blurring.
I began to think how difficult it must have been to see everything you thought was set in stone begin to crumble around you. To think that your very life was changing and you were powerless to stop it. Then I began to think that things aren't so different now.
World unrest? Check. Massive political and cultural shifts? Check. Economic hardships? Check. Yep it would seem that the old adage rings true; the only thing that never changes is change.
A couple of thoughts about change on this snowy morning in the Hudson Valley…
- Change seems to move at a glacial pace…unless it's happening to you. Then it has all the subtlety of a 2X4 to the face. It can be disconcerting and overwhelming to have those things you've always counted on jerked out from under you.
- Change hits people who seem to have to most to lose much harder. Whether you are the Grantham family living in Downton Abbey or the politcal party currently in power or Kodak; change can be more than just overwhelming, change can mean an end to your way of life.
So what do we do about change? First of all we have to realize that change is happening at a much quicker pace than at anytime in history. Your way of life WILL CHANGE. Accept it. The things you are using like technology will obviously change; even quicker than you think. But it goes way beyond that. The way you shop for groceries will change. The car you drive will change. The way you learn will change. Even the way you go to church is changing. Change will happen. Across the board. No one will escape.
But you do have a choice. You don't have to be upset, surprised, disconcerted or overwhelmed when change occurs. You can be like the guy in the crow's nest or on the bluff overlooking the valley. You can position yourself to see things coming. You can anticipate. You can be on the front edge instead of like the boxer in the corner trying to cover his face against the barrage of punches heading for his face.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is 1 Chronicles 12:32. It says that the sons of Issachar were "men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do."
Instead of complaining about change or wishing for the good old days, you can actually be the one in the family or the one in the office or the church who understands the times and knows what to do. Don't be the one hiding in the basement. Be the one high on the hill looking out at the horizon.