I’ve never been a very adaptable person. I don’t handle change well. I am hard-wired to avoid it. When I was working, people often called me “stubborn” because I was usually the last to let go of an old philosophy or procedure. I clung to the last scrap of past practices like a drowning woman clings to a life preserver. It wasn’t stubbornness. It was sheer terror.
In the years since my retirement, I’ve thrown caution, if not to the wind, at least to the strong breeze. I plowed my way through the numerous changes involved in retiring, moving to Florida, caring for my mother, and other such challenges of life. Most of the time, I survived by closing my eyes and pretending it wasn’t happening. Kind of like a root canal. At least with the root canal, they gave me laughing gas.
Despite my best efforts, I have learned a few things about responding to change in my post retirement life. The other day, I experienced living proof of my increased ability to adapt. Actually, it was a bit too living, if you ask me.
I was outside spraying the weeds around my house with Round-up. This is a routine summer activity. In fact, during the summer months, spraying weeds is something like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. By the time I circle the house once, more weeds have sprouted and I could just go around again. If I didn’t call a halt to the madness, I’d be spraying perpetually. I limit myself to one circumnavigation of the house per spraying episode.
What I would not call exactly routine is that I saw a snake outside our lanai. That never happened in California. In Florida, it isn’t exactly abnormal, but it is not an everyday occurrence. It happens a couple of times each year. This guy was a big fellow, though. He was about six feet long and about as big around as a garden hose. I don’t think he was a poisonous variety, but seeing any variety of snake around the house always creeped me out in the past (please see http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/07/the-great-snake-chase/ and http://www.terrilabonte.com/2019/01/snakes-why-did-it-have-to-be-snakes/).
The evidence of my new adaptability is that the noise I emitted when I saw the enormous black snake was more like a startled “eek” and less like the screeching gurgle of someone whose throat has just been slit. I was immensely proud of myself when I realized the progress I’ve made on the adaptability front.
Really, though, does a more measured reaction to a snake sighting mean that I’ve learned to adapt to change? Or is it just that seeing the occasional reptile no longer constitutes “change” for me? That is a frightening thought.
I’ve always thought that “adaptability” meant “flexibility.” That may be going too far. I don’t think my “startled eek” demonstrated any Gumbyesque ability to morph effortlessly into whatever shape is necessary for survival and thrive-al. Truth be told, I’m still not very good at adjusting to new situations. Gumby and I have little in common. My approach to adaptability is more like the little boy who sculpted animals from rocks and sold them on the side of the road. A lady once marveled at one of his cute little renditions of a donkey. She asked him, “How do you make these beautiful carvings?” He replied, “I pick up a rock and chip away anything that doesn’t look like a donkey.”
That’s me. My ability to adapt is not immediate and beautiful. I don’t transform myself gracefully and fluidly and effortlessly. I just doggedly chip away the parts of me that don’t serve my new reality. The new version of me I create is fairly rough and primitive. So far, though, I seem to be able to churn out the donkeys when I need them.
What pieces of your life have you chipped away because they “don’t look like a donkey” in retirement? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a flexible day!
4 thoughts on “Adaptable”
I was never a big fan of change for change’s sake. By the time I’d retired from my 34 year career in the health field, I saw some “new” policies & procedure come around for the third time with some program manager (young enough that I could have given birth to) telling me how innovative it was. I guess that’s when you know it’s time to retire! I’ve lived to see the cyclical nature of life and to surrender rather than to resist. I guess that’s adaptation.
I’d say that being calm and finding peace with your world is probably the very soul of adaptability, Mona. Good for you!
Nope, probably not much for change either. Can’t wait to revisit your other blogs…especially Snakes, why did it have to be snakes? Very good, Terri L.!!!
When I was working, I kept repeating to myself- “I am a willow; I can bend.” I was lying!
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