It's funny what you remember. For instance, I recall a visit to the dentist. I must have been in 7th Grade and in for a check up. He said, "You have a cavity in one of your molars." I said something like, "Well, what can I do to make that better?" "Nothing," he replied. "It's never going to go away. I have to fill it." It was a simple exchange. But it startled me. It was my awakening to the fact that there are some things in my body that are going to decay and there is nothing I can do to fix it--it would be permanent. A new tooth was not going to emerge. Thankfully, external methods would arrest the decay. But I would take my cavity to the grave. I think it was from that day on I only chewed sugarless gum.
Adjustment is the word Sister Joan takes up today. I find that word leading me to another: adaptability. If adjustment and adaptability describe one end of the scale, the other would have a cluster of words like fixated, obsessed, and stuck. I have had seasons in my life when I became stuck. Stretches of time when I refused to adjust, to adapt. I would go on, always. To the outside observer, it would appear that I had moved on and moved into the present. But in truth, I was living in parallel universes. One was the external world of the present. The other: what had been and was no more--pure fantasy. But I held on, tenaciously, with every fiber of my imagination I could spare, to keep what was no more in play. What a waste. It was depleting, depressing, and demoralizing.
Thanks be to God that I married someone who is imminently adaptable--who is highly skilled at making adjustments to the twists and turns of life. Jennifer has an innate ability to both treasure what has been and give herself fully to what is and is yet to be. It is one of the many qualities of being I so admire about her.
In confronting the changes that come with age, with life, Sister Joan writes, "Then I begin to understand as never before that holiness is made of dailiness, of living life as it comes to me, not as I insist it to be." Cultivating the capacity for adjustment is one we must develop early and often in life--it is the essence of maturity. It comes hard and takes much practice. We will not mature without it. We must begin early because then, in our younger years, the possibility is much greater that the past will pass over into something that will surpass what has been. We experience the benefits of leaving the dead skin of the past behind for good. As we age, the future gets much shorter. That's when we need that skill for adjustment to be be well honed. I still have my moments when I want to mount an argument with the dentist.
There is much wisdom on the prayer that has become the mantra for Alcoholics Anonymous: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Where do you feel the resistance to adjustment?