Thursday, 14 March 2013

Chopping and changing

Going off with a good feed of grass which they have just cut for their horsesI am not good at change. Most of us aren't, really, regardless of our brain wiring. We like feeling comfortable and secure and a big shake-up, beneficial as it may be in the long term, is uncomfortable and insecure and uncertain and all the things that set off mental DO NOT WANT alarms.

Here's a thing I've learned about change, having gone through a lot of them over the last few years and having another big one coming up in six weeks time: it's easiest to deal with if there is still a safe raft of security and familiarity somewhere in the chaos. So if you're going through a big, complicated inter-city move, for instance, that's not a good time to also change your eating habits, exercise plan, start a new job or make changes to your family life.

It's very tempting - a big move or a new workplace or school can be seen as changes to reinvent ourselves; an opportunity to shuck off all the things we don't like about our current selves and take a step towards being a more awesome human being. But having change in every aspect of your life leaves you with uncertainty and insecurity all round, and no area in which you feel safe and settled. And that makes things scarier and more difficult than they need to be.

The other thing is that it's sometimes hard not to make multiple changes at once. People don't often move interstate just for the laughs - it's usually to take up a new job, a change in education, or some sort of family upheaval.

What I found helpful last time I moved was having some time between arriving in town and starting the new job.  I had about a fortnight to get settled into the new house and work out where to buy bread and milk, how to get to work, and generally recover a little from the move before the second wave of change, starting the new job, kicked in.

And one really practical way of softening the blow of change?  Google Streetview.  I'm reluctant to sing Google's praises given what's just happened to my beloved Reader, but Streetview is something I've used a lot when planning road trips for work. The beauty of it is instead of just having a map, I can see what the roads I'll be driving on actually look like, taking some of the surprise out of it. Plus, if you navigate by landmarks (as I do) rather than street names or cardinal directions, knowing what the route looks like is a huge help.  It's fantastic. I just hope it doesn't go the way of Google's other fantastic service, the soon-to-be-no-more Reader.

Image: Soldiers gathering fodder for their horses in France during World War I, from the National Library of Scotland