One of the hardest truths for us to accept in our journey through this life is that of change.
It is inevitable. It is constant. It is worrisome to us, causes us stress and often compels us to wish we could go backward in time to the past.
Change is as simple as a west wind shifting northward, but as complex as the human mind itself. We generally seek out change when we’re not content with our lives; we otherwise work to keep things steady, familiar and unchanging.
No matter how we approach change, the unmistakable truth of it is that change is going to happen, and we have to prepare ourselves for it. Life often gives us a basic pair of choices when approaching the inevitable: we can either proactively meet things head-on, or we can reactively prepare ourselves for the hit.
I know as a father and as a teacher which one of those strategies I would like to impart to my kids – and to other people’s kids whose parents entrust me with their children in the classroom. The proactive approach, of course, offers a better character-building experience. It also makes more sense, if you think about it.
You know it’s coming, right? Change is making its way to your door this very instant. Will it be tonight? Tomorrow? Next week? Next year? We can’t know that until we know it, but we can ready ourselves for life’s inevitable transitions.
The last thing I would want my kids to do would be to walk around scared, nervous at the prospect that things won’t always be exactly as they are today. It’s no way to live one’s life. Nor do I expect my children to put a fake smile on their faces when change comes, pretending to be happy about every shift in their fortunes.
What I would hope for them is that they would embrace the changes life brings – particularly the ones that none of us can prepare for ≠ with grace, walking with enough faith to believe that things will work out again. And for the general cause of preparing for these inevitable changes, I would love to see my kids develop a little bit of versatility.
That’s the key, you see: being adaptable and versatile. It’s hard to do, but I remind myself frequently that there are a lot of different directions life could take, many of which would bring me happiness. I’ve taught at three schools, and I had good reasons for resigning the first two teaching jobs when I did so. I never had to stomp out the door or fight against the different directions that life was taking me.
I left South Nodaway School in 2006, and I did it to come to King City and work alongside my dad. I don’t regret it. I loved both schools, and I still do. The people I met in those districts remain friends in this life, and I value the change that gave me the freedom to move from one spot to the other, knowing that something good would work out.
I stopped teaching in 2015 to run newspapers, a less certain change with plenty more risks attached to it. But it was right, and I have built relationships in Albany, Grant City and the other communities that the transition helped me establish.
And coming back to my educational career required more change, and my time at Union Star School has also been time well spent. I don’t anticipate any more career changes, but I wouldn’t fear one, if I knew it was right.
I don’t relate this to set myself as any kind of example, but more proof that a person doesn’t need to see the end results of his or her decisions to embrace the initial change that gets the ball rolling. Speaking plainly: I rarely know what I’m doing, but I trust that good opportunities will take me somewhere special. If that sounds haphazard or foolhardy, so be it. I’ll give the credit elsewhere when and if I land on my feet.
Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers in King City, Albany and Grant City.