This morning I was out on the balcony plucking the dead flower heads from the pansies in the window box. ”Soon”, I thought, “I’ll need to change these.”  I’ve been thinking about replacing the flowers for a few weeks now.  Pansies are spring flowers.  They enjoy cool weather, spring rain.  My blooms are surprisingly strong and colorful, even though they are planted on the south side and the summer sun pulls the moisture from the fragile petals.  Nonetheless, I can’t avoid the signs that it’s time for a change.

 

Why is change so difficult?  My mind turns to the larger issues with which this nation is wrestling:  changes in health care, in government processes, in economy and lifestyle.  And I think, too, about my coaching clients and the way they wrestle with changes in organizational structure, their positions and responsibilities, their workplace cultures.  It’s still early in the morning and I haven’t had enough coffee to wrestle with such big questions.  My own pansy problem suggests a microcosm view of the heart of resistance.  I know what needs to be done:  pull out the fading plants, amend the soil, drive to the nursery and pick out more seasonal material, dedicate an hour or so replacing the old with the new, sweep the mess off the balcony, water liberally and hover for a few weeks until the new plants settle in. 

 

I’m aware of the underlying tug in the opposite direction, too, the tension incited by the pull toward change.  Sure, there’s a little laziness involved (yawn- I’d rather be reading) but that’s not the truth.  The truth is that the pansies are familiar.  I’ve grown accustomed to waking up and seeing the crowd of purples, yellows, oranges and whites outside the window already smiling with their little black marking faces.  When the sun warms them in mid-day, they offer just the slightest fragrance to spice up the Denver air.  They remind me of my grandmother and my childhood home.  They are a link to my past and my own roots.  Comfort, familiarity, connection:  these are strong forces anchoring resistance to change.

 

Nonetheless, the signs are clear.  There are more dead blooms to be removed than there are fresh ones coming on.  “Volunteers”- petunias from a neighboring balcony, some persistent wildflower seeds planted last year- are emerging and starting to crowd into the spaces left by shrinking pansy roots.  I take the path of least resistance, a Darwinian strategy of allowing the strong to overtake the weak.  The window box plantings will evolve on their own.  As the dead pansy blooms are removed, they make room for whatever chooses to move in.  In the window box world, it’s unlikely that this strategy will have serious consequences. In the end, when autumn chills the life out of them all, I’ll empty the boxes and leave them alone until spring.  In the real world, though, to choose such laissez-faire approach is to choose to be a victim of circumstance and the choices of others. 

 

Even now, writing this, I’m resisting the call of change: to finish up a long-term writing project that’s been going on so long that it’s as familiar as my bedroom slippers; to figure out which new task needs to be started first and to actually get started; to actually take away the bag of clothes that came out of last week’s closet-cleaning frenzy.   There are harder changes too, but writing about them only delays the inevitable and keeps me in my comfort zone. 

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