At the end of my book about my ancestor, Jeanne Chevalier, I set myself three tasks. The first was to understand what Jeanne’s story meant in my life and that of my extended family. The second was to solve the mysteries surrounding the lives of Jeanne and her three husbands. The final task was to describe the many wonderful adventures I had during my research, and the exceptionally generous people who had helped me along the way. In my most recent book, Jeanne’s Gift: Finding a Home, I recounted not only the progress on these tasks but also how the journey ended up changing my life forever.
After its publication, I received several comments on how the anecdotes caused readers to reflect on the meaning of “home,” friendship, identity, and change, especially in the third chapter of their lives. I’ve already written about the importance of friendship in my life. At this point, as I start thinking about next year, I decided to take a moment to recharge my batteries and reflect on the subject of change and on how I deal with it.
In my latest book, I described my usual way: ignore the impact and keep moving forward. This is what I did after my move from California back to the Eastern U.S. without taking the time to acclimatize, to reflect on my change of lifestyle or even to have a house-warming party. It’s also what I did after the death of a close friend and later that of my parents – no the time to mourn or to think about the fragility of life. Even though I did take some notes on the events and the feelings I’d experienced, it hadn’t been too difficult to say to myself: “I don’t have time now to take a break, just as I didn’t in previous years. Take action. Create a plan.” That’s what I imagined my great grandmother Jeanne probably doing as she faced so many changes in her life, although I don’t know if she was as fond of planning as I am!
Now, at the start of another year, I’m not sure I have that same level of energy as I once did, after so many changes in my life, before and after my move to France and at the end of all the Christmas visits and end-of-year celebrations, to create a plan for the following months. It may be time to take a break!
During our New Year’s Eve party, a friend wanted to know my plans for 2024. I replied, “Nothing … except, perhaps, walking in water at least once this year!” That’s probably an understatement and I’ll soon be ready to re-engage in my many activities here. Although I sometimes am a bit jealous of Quincie who now spends most of her days sleeping, I know I can’t really slow down. Like Dylan Thomas, I don’t want to go quietly into that good night.
How, dear reader, have you dealt with change in your life in the past, whether small alterations in your daily routine or major upheavals, or somewhere in between? Has the way you normally handle change and its consequences shifted over the years?