The drive from my house to my favorite diner takes about ten minutes.
It is a rural place I live. Most of you who read me know this. Southwestern Vermont. You want to do any serious shopping, you have to travel between an hour and and an hour and a half, through farms and fields. It is the kind of place that people say never changes.
It does of course. As I drive to the diner, I pass a house in town that has just hired an excavator to level out their yard. Suddenly the land there is smooth and flat, a rarity in this area. Another house is rebuilding a porch. Two by fours prop up the roof as they do the work of reconstruction. A third house has construction people all around it each morning as it is restored.
I drive by the place where Duchies Store used to be. A country store since 1886, it burnt down a few years ago. It was, for me, my first “diner” here, where I used to go for breakfast, meeting people in this new place I had moved to. Gone now. I pass by a farm where, in the back corner of the field an old shed has collapsed finally, after years of neglect.
It is spring. Fields have been plowed. Some are in the midst of hay being baled. Once lush fields are now lined with rows of fresh cut hay. Hemp, just planted under long sheets of plastic is starting to emerge, new leaves popping out from the stalks planted just a week or two ago. Corn grows at an improbably rate. I swear I can see the difference in the long rows from day to day.
It is spring. Baby animal season. On the road to the diner, I see newborns. Sheep. Calves. Piglets. Dancing and running and frisky. You cannot help but smile.
A lot has been lost in the past year, here as everywhere. There are small businesses that have closed. People who have lost jobs and are struggling, the struggle often evident in the care of their houses and cars and yards, even to strangers like me.
Everywhere, change. And that’s the point. We live in a place where everyone says nothing every changes. And yet, it does. All the time. I have lived here twelve years and the changes I have seen on every front is staggering. It is not the same place it was then. Things have been lost. People have left. Or died. Or moved in or ….. at any rate, changed. Look at it rationally, and even here in the bucolic countryside, change is everywhere. I can’t imagine the rate of change in places that move faster, in the world I used to work in.
I have been married four years now. My second marriage. The woman I love, my bride, my wife is younger than I am by a fair amount, but we are both middle aged, her on the young side, me on the older side. We are of an age where we are supposed to be settled. In some ways we are, I supposed. But also, when I look at us, and the growth and change in our own lives over those four years, and the change in us is staggering. The growth is staggering.
I have a hard time with people who say to a spouse, or a friend, or anyone – “You’ve changed.” Of course you have. Of course I have. It’s what happens. It’s generally healthy. Stagnancy is a form of slow death.
Some people mistake stagnancy for stability. But the two are different. Stability comes from basics not changing. My core is the same as it was a decade ago. But the way I live it, and the way I see things and approach things has changed. Some parts of me have been enhanced. For instance, I had some compassion a decade ago, but because of the woman I love and her influence, that part of me has grown considerably. Other parts of me have lessened. I worry less. (I still do on occasion, but it’s lots less.). But the core is there. And stable. And people who know me can count on those part that are core. That’s stability.
Stagnancy is the lack of change and growth. We may think it is stability, but it is not, because the world around us is constantly changing, and requires that we adapt. Even in a place like rural Vermont, the world is changing. To resist change and not grow means that our ability to cope, fit in, work around and grow is lost.
It is good to stop now and then and look at ourselves. Not to dwell, but simply to ask: “Where have I changed? Where have I grown? What have I lost? Where do I need to adapt and how can I do that?” If we have good answers to those questions, then carry on. And if we don’t, consider change, before change overtakes you.
And having lived through that being overtaken place, I can tell you, It’s hard to come back from. I would not wish that on anyone.
I don’t have a good ending for this. It began as just a short bit of writing about the countryside, and as so often my writing does, got hijacked by thoughts and emotions. All I can say is don’t fret the changes around you and in you. It’s proof you are alive, adapting and will embrace your future. Dance a little while you do.
Dancing makes everything better.
Be well. Travel wisely,