It’s interesting to observe your own reaction when change presents itself in life.
It may be economic change in your circumstances, it may be a change in the way you spend your life. A lot of people, as their children grow, have an opportunity to change their lives, but they have such strong habits in how they’ve always done things and who they’ve always been, that they get frightened at the freedom to change when an opportunity presents itself.
Up until now, they justified their existence by what their karma commitments are; “I have to be this way,” and I would say that doesn’t have to be the case. They don’t have to wait for their kids to grow up, because that waiting becomes their daily routine.
How much of who I was yesterday is defining who I am today? How much can I allow who I am today to be totally open and tuning and responding to the situation, which includes everything I was yesterday, but also all that I will be tomorrow?
It’s interesting in a relationship how much you can allow the other person to be new, and how much you hold onto the stuff of the past moment. I watch how, out of comfort and resistance to fear, we lock each other into fixed models of identity, “Ole’ Sam, I know how he is,” and, “She’s always the one to feed the cat.”
And you learn to have less certainty about what the future holds, of who you’ll be when you grow up, or how it will all come out. Because when I look at my life now, there is nothing – 25 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, 50 years ago – everything I thought about who I was and how it would come out had no similarity at all to the way it is.
Who I am now hardly recognizes who that was. Who was absolutely sure he would be around all the way through. Who he was at Harvard would have hospitalized who I am now. And who I am now feels great compassion for who he was then. I doubt if we’d be much of friends. We would have very little business with one another. He would be very judging of me, which would be very poignant.
So I have learned, since I have gone through so many transformations of who I know myself to be and how it is, that I must assume that those will continue. There’s no reason to assume they won’t, although they may not. Because I can’t know that. So I’m not planning to continue to be who I am forever. It will keep changing.
– Ram Dass