Words and photography by Jennifer Kresina
I used to consider myself an ambassador of change. I loved it and would even go as far as to say I thrived with it. Throughout my twenties, I lived a liquid life. I was always moving, shedding the old for the new every year like the skin of a snake. Nothing and no one stayed for long -I wanted excitement and challenges. Change made me feel alive. My CV as an unofficial ambassador of change listed quantifiable achievements: I have lived in seven countries, speak three languages, hitchhiked through most European countries, have met countless strangers and got drunk on liquor with unpronounceable names. This, I thought, was really living.
Little did I know that my ability to seek change depended on the stability of the world at large. In March, that sense of stability came crashing down and suddenly I found myself in a situation of change that was beyond my experience and above my pay grade. The change felt violent, unwanted and unwarranted. I felt panic bubbling up inside of me and although I felt alone, my friends, family, Instagram and the news assured me I wasn’t.
In Paris, my adopted home, it has been three months of change on crack, with no immediate end in sight. I still feel the panic, the dread and waking up many mornings wishing all this was just a bad dream. Most days I feel like I am stumbling around in a dark room, my hand desperately searching for the light switch while hoping that my eyes will adjust to the darkness. To my disappointment, my eyes never seem to adjust.
“Every system in the world walks on a tightrope between stability and change.”
Every system in the world walks on a tightrope between stability and change. It is a fluid flux of yin and yang: too much stability and we are stuck, in the past, in systems that are outdated, but too much change and we are thrown into chaos. Just like we need to know pain to experience pleasure, we need change to grow and stability to feel secure in that growth. Imagine a child at a playground. The child leaves the safe and secure arms of his mother to explore the world and ventures into change. He might be gone for ten minutes, half an hour or hours at a time, but one thing is sure- he will eventually teeter back to the arms of stability and security when the change has become too much. No matter how much we love it or hate it, we all need change. Change is the space in which we test our limits, we find ourselves and we grow. In and of itself, change isn’t good or bad. It just is what it is. It is only in retrospect, when we see the outcome and fix emotions and the context to the change, that it takes on meaning.
Even though I, and the world, are currently pushed to our limits, I try to remind myself that there is an indescribable amount of beauty in change. The new replaces the old: the lush colors of blooming flowers beckon in the spring, a summer tan slowly fades to winter white, babies turn into toddlers and then grow into adults. These moments are bittersweet, only because we know they are ephemeral and will not last, like a photograph taken in an instant. We are reminded, as things change, to savor every minute of every day.
Now, in the face of such an enormous change that the threat of chaos looms over us all, we must take baby steps, savor the moments we have with each other and remember the inevitable truth that life will go on. This too will pass. Spring will turn to summer and summer to fall. People will fall in love and out of love. Children will be born and grow up. People will lose jobs and get new ones. Time will follow its smooth periodic oscillation between good times and bad. We will, eventually, come teetering back to the safe and secure arms of our mother.