During my early years, I had the good fortune to grow up a few blocks from the ocean in Margate, New Jersey. There, I learned first hand about change while playing in the sand and in the water. Standing at the edge of the waves became a game in itself. As a toddler, jumping the waves was a thrill. I remember how much fun my friends and I had as we anticipated the next wave and tried to figure out exactly when to jump to clear the wave. Then, as the wave went back to sea, I remember the sensation of having the sand pulled out from under my feet, the need to readjust my balance by using my toes, and then, getting ready for the next one. Not only was it a great lesson in balance and coordination, it taught me that everything was in motion constantly and nothing stayed the same. It wasn't bad. It wasn't good. It just was.
Building sand castles was also a great teacher. Each type of castle presented me with different lessons about change. Drip castles, due to the nature of the slurpy mud being difficult to control, taught me about letting go of any attempt at controlling the process and enjoying the spires that emerged with each drip. Of course, the spires were short lived and I was putting new spires on fallen ones regularly and joyfully. Castles with moats presented another kind of challenge. We dug a canal from the water's edge to our castle and waited for the water to come up, fill the moat, and go back to sea. However, more times than not, the waves modified our castle in some way and so we were constantly fixing, modifying, and adapting to change.
Perhaps my favorite was creating a castle that had a spiral tunnel around and through it for a tennis ball to travel. Mixing the sand and the water to get the mound firm enough to ream out the tunnel was the first challenge. Then figuring out the engineering so the tennis ball would stay in its channel while moving down and around the mound was the second challenge. The digging out the tunnel so the tennis ball continued on its downward journey through the mound was often where the rubber hit the road, so to speak. The whole thing would collapse if the water-sand mixture was not quite right. Then rebuilding began. But the thrill of having the tennis ball go around the mound, then through the mound and out the other side was so powerful that as children, we worked arduously and diligently to create the castle—knowing full well that it would be gone in hours. A great lesson in working hard to create something knowing that it too would change.
I think that experiencing and understanding the impermanence of all things from an early age has made it easier for me to deal with change. Though that doesn't mean that change has always been easy.