Ballard: Change brings loss, but also renewal, hope

March 30, 2014 

There is something about springtime that seems to bring out the best in people. At least, I think it does in me. I believe it has to do with the fact that after the dismal winter we are so ready for blooming flowers, warm sunshine and greener grass. Maybe it also has something to do with new growth and rebirth.

It provides us a chance to start over with fresh, new ideas, just as nature always does. I would have to say that spring is one of my favorite seasons but, because I enjoy a change in scenery, I do celebrate each one.

“Why can’t things just stay the way they are?” I would ask my mother. “That’s just not the way life operates, Mark,” she would always reply. I didn’t understand it back then but the older I become the more I realize that without change there would be no growth; without growth there would be no progress; and without progress there would be no hope. Without hope, well, what do we have?

I’ve often thought that if we were all given crystal balls at the beginning of our lives, things would be much more simple. Gazing deep within the magical ball, we could see the many transformations we would make during the course of our lifetimes. In my mind, I pictured it as a big-screen movie. From infancy to our last breath, we could watch it play out in living color. We would know where we started and we would know how it all ended. To be honest, I used to think of this concept a lot.

I must confess, I mostly focused on the positive changes in my life. The things I would celebrate and cherish. “What would I end up doing with my life?” I would ask myself. “Who would I become?”

But then my theory fell apart because I suddenly realized that not only would the crystal ball reveal the good changes in my life but also those that were painful and hard to bear. “I don’t want to know about them in advance,” I would tell myself. That would be too depressing.

The truth is, we all know there are no magical crystal balls in which to gaze. Our lives have to evolve in natural ways because of the many positive and negative changes we come upon on our journeys.

We are changed by the good things and also the negative ones. We become who we are by how we deal with both. Dealing with change is what makes us stronger.

I was looking through some photos of my past the other day. Photos have a way of showing us where we have been and where we are presently. But their power ends there. They can’t predict where we are going. Their ability ends with the freezing of time for a second and capturing it forever.

Photo after photo, I could definitely see the changes that occurred during the process of my life thus far. Believe me, change was evident. I smiled at the good times and mourned the bad. I found myself pausing at some of the photos taken of me when I was younger.

In comparison to my current photos, the physical effects of aging were clearly visible. I caught myself mourning about that until I realized that no one and no thing ever remains as it once was. We, just like nature, are in a constant state of change.

Long after I put the photos away, I continued to think about my personal changes. I wondered if I had been able to see where I am now ahead of time, would I have made the same decisions? Are there some things I would have done differently? What I realized was the things I would have changed didn’t involve the important choices such as my wife and my family, but rather some of the simple daily choices that, slowly over time, have shaped my future.

I began to go down the “what if” highway and quickly had to do a sharp U-turn. That is one thing I have learned as I’ve aged: You can’t go further if you are in the process of looking back. What’s in the past should be in the past!

The other day, I was listening to the words of the current song, “Let It Go” performed by Idina Menzel from the movie “Frozen.” If you’ve never heard the song, chances are you have heard that Idina’s name was the name John Travolta mispronounced at the Oscars. I imagine that might be one of the things he would like to change. Anyway, the message of this song is about saying goodbye to the past. What better way to begin anew than to let it go.

Isn’t that what nature does with each changing season? It leaves how it used to be behind and begins afresh with new vigor. In autumn, old leaves whither and fall off only to be replaced with fresh ones in the spring. Nature never looks back. It realizes things will never stay the same.

Once we learn that same lesson, we will understand that what happened yesterday was yesterday. Tomorrow is a new day full of possibilities. That’s the direction we should be heading.

More with Mark

• Visit with Mark and more than 200 other vendors Sunday at the 44th annual Mulberry Street Arts and Crafts Festival in downtown Macon. In addition to all of Mark’s merchandise, vendors display a wide variety of arts and crafts. Food trucks from all over Georgia will be there as well. Free admission. Rain location is Georgia Farmers’ Market on Eisenhower Parkway

• Mark is on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email markballard@cox.net; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.

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