It has been said that there are only two things in this life that are certain: death and taxes. While the former is absolute and the latter a bit truthful, there’s another good candidate to join the list created by that old cliché. It is something that some us thrive upon and others of us can’t stand. All of us spend a large portion of our lives dealing with it. And some of us spend huge amounts of our time, energy, effort and even money trying to either prevent it or make it happen, depending upon our own view of the world at that moment.
What is it?
Whether you were around for the building of the ark or are fresh off the turnip truck, change is an unchangeable fact of modern life. That’s no surprise, you might say, considering this seems to be accepted by almost everyone. Even those of us who sing along with extra conviction when Merle Haggard asks “Are the good times really over for good?” begrudgingly accept that some things will be different tomorrow than they are today.
For example, it is true for just about everyone (except my father-in-law) that the days of 30 years on the job and a gold watch at retirement are long gone. But there are some surprising statistics about job tenure to consider. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 the average American worker had a job tenure of 4.6 years.
That’s actually higher than the 3.7-year average recorded in 2002 and 3.5 in 1983.
So, while we may be staying at our jobs longer than folks did 30 years ago, these statistics still translate to eight or nine different jobs over the course of one’s career. And for most, a job change is a very impactful event. Sure, a promotion or new job can be exciting and cause for celebration, but there is no doubt that this kind of change can be a drain on our limited abilities to cope with change.
However, it’s not just the workplace that constant change affects our lives. Over time, our interests and hobbies can shift. A new avocation can take up a lot of our time and attention as we soak up all the new information to engage and master it. New hobbies likely mean new acquaintances who share your new interests. And when the new hobby is a physical activity, it likely means sore muscles in the short term but better health in the long.
Of course, the world around us provides all the evidence we need to demonstrate how rapid change has become. As just one example, take a moment and think back to your high school years. Depending on your age, you could make a pretty extensive list of modern conveniences you somehow managed to live without: air-conditioning, computers, email, cell phones, Facebook … the list goes on and on. There are probably even a few folks reading these words who could say they remember the day electricity came to their community. Can you imagine the world they grew up in compared to today?
Let me offer this thought: While the speed of change may be increasing, the fact that things do change is nothing new. Take Haggard’s “Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)” for instance. Topping the charts when it was recorded in 1982, the song ponders if the country is “rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell.” I don’t know how you felt at the time, but a lot of people seem to still feel that way today — especially when the topic involves politics or current events.
He wished “a Coke was still Cola” and also hoped that “a Ford and a Chevy could still last 10 years, like they should” (emphasis added). Well, “new Coke” was a flop, and I expect my wife’s minivan will make it well past 10 years of use. His observations seem a little dated now, don’t they?
So I ask you this: Is the “hill” Haggard sang about more than 30 years in length, and we are still rolling down toward our demise, or was he wrong? I believe it is the latter. Absolute truth does exist, but some amount of flexibility in your attitude about how you approach those absolutes is essential in this modern world. That flexibility will also help you to understand that the answer to Merle’s question is an emphatic NO.
I’m glad my bucks fold up in my wallet, and I’m glad that God has blessed me and you to live in this day and age. You are here for a purpose, and I hope that whatever changes you experience in 2015 get you one step closer to living out that purpose.
Flickr image by hennasabel.