How often are you open to change?

Today is May 19 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you open to change?” The word change comes up often in the research, backstories, and historical events involved with the study of how people navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well. Change has an interesting etymology and offers a different application of the word. Middle English: from Old French change (noun), changer (verb), from late Latin cambiare, from Latin cambire ‘barter.’ Barter. Now that is a word not often associated with change. Referring to the origin of the word allows change to be defined more closely to barter – ‘trading one thing for another.’ The typical definition of change is ‘make or become different.’ How often do you trade one version of your life for a new one?


Best-selling author Cheryl Strayed bartered with her life and trade one version for a new one as she remained humbly open to the unfolding of her life. In 1986, at the age of 17, Strayed graduated from McGregor High School in McGregor, Minnesota, where she was a track and cross-country runner, cheerleader, and homecoming queen. Strayed married Marco Littig in August of 1988, a month before her 20th birthday. In March 1991, when Strayed was a senior in college, her mother died suddenly of lung cancer at the age of 45. Strayed graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis with a double major in English and Women's Studies. Over time Strayed started using heroin, and eventually she and her husband divorced in 1995.


Seeking self-discovery and resolution of her enduring grief and personal challenges, at age 26 Strayed hiked the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 1995. She wrote about her adventure and published Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012. Wild intertwines the stories of Strayed's life before and during the journey, describing her physical challenges and spiritual realizations while on the trail. One of the realizations that Strayed made is that "your life will be a great and continuous unfolding.” The book reached No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list, and the film adaptation was released in December 2014. Fellow author John Grisham allowed his life to unfold in a different manner.


After graduating from law school and then practicing for a few years, Grisham was hanging around the courthouse one day in 1984 and overheard a 12-year-old girl tell the jury what had happened to her. Her story intrigued Grisham, and he began watching the trial. He saw how the members of the jury cried as she told them about having been raped and beaten. It was then, Grisham decided to write. It took him three years to complete his first book, A Time to Kill. Finding a publisher was not easy. The book was rejected by 28 publishers before Wynwood Press, an unknown publisher, agreed to give it a modest 5,000-copy printing. It was published in June 1989.


The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on his second novel, The Firm that would go on to be a best-seller. When viewing your life, do you consider it a choice or a combination? As Grisham said “I seriously doubt I would ever have written the first story had I not been a lawyer. I never dreamed of being a writer. I wrote only after witnessing a trial.” Much like Grisham, Israel actor Gal Gadot never envisioned the life she has for herself. Gadot allowed herself to be open to change and doing so altered the course of her life.


According to Gadot, “If things had gone according to my plans, I'd be a lawyer. I never dreamt of being an actress. My mother was a teacher; my dad is an engineer. But at 18 I was approached to compete in Miss Israel. I thought it would be a nice experience. I never thought I would win! I was shocked when they crowned me. I made friends with women from all over the world. I started modeling and traveling. It opened my mind to different possibilities.” Following her participation in the competitions, she joined the Israeli Army where, as a citizen of Israel, she completed her two years of mandatory military service.


After leaving the army, Gadot studied law. It was when she had completed her first year of school that a casting director called her to audition for the part of Bond girl Camille Montes in the film Quantum of Solace. Although she lost the part to Olga Kurylenko, the same casting director hired Gadot for the role of Gisele in Fast & Furious. In 2010, she had a small role in the action-adventure Knight and Day. Earlier that year, she appeared in the film Date Night as Natanya, the girlfriend of Mark Wahlberg's character. 2011 brought her back to The Fast & the Furious franchise, reprising her role as Gisele in Fast Five. In 2013, Gadot played Gisele again in Fast & Furious 6. Gadot played Wonder Woman in the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and starred in the 2017 movie Wonder Woman. Gadot remained open to changing her career path and doing so altered the course of her life.


In 1997 British author Stephen Batchelor, published Buddhism Without Beliefs and wrote about adapting to change and life’s unfolding: “Did I live? The human world is like a vast musical instrument on which we play our individual part while simultaneously listening to the compositions of others to contribute to the whole. We don't choose whether to engage, only how to; we either harmonize or create dissonance. Our words, our deeds, our very presence create and leave impressions in the minds of others just as a writer makes impressions with their words. Who you are is an unfolding narrative. You came from nothing and will return there eventually. Instead of taking ourselves so seriously all the time, we can discover the playful irony of a story that has never been told in quite this way before.”


· How often are you open to change?

· How often do you trade one version of your life for a new one?

· Have you asked yourself how open you are?

· Do you allow yourself to understand that who you are is an unfolding narrative?