Fighting Reality

I’m about halfway through the book, “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” by David Wroblewski, and I ran across a beautiful explanation by the protagonist’s mother, Trudy, to her son Edgar, of why fighting reality (change) is ultimately futile and painful.

“Things always change… That’s just life. You can fight it or you can accept it. The only difference is, if you accept it, you get to do other things. If you fight it, you’re stuck in the same spot forever. Does that make sense?”

But aren’t some changes worth fighting?

“You know that’s true.”

So how do you know which is which?

“I don’t know a way to tell for sure,” she said. “You ask, ‘Why am I really fighting this?’ If the answer is ‘Because I’m scared of what things will be like,’ then, most times, you’re fighting for the wrong reason.”

And if that’s not the answer?

“Then you dig in your heels and you fight and fight and fight. But you have to be absolutely sure you can handle a different kind of change, because in the end, things will change anyway, just not that way. If fact, if you get into a fight like that, it pretty much guarantees things are going to change.”

He nodded. He knew she was right but he hated what she said. A person could stop a specific thing, but they couldn’t stop change in general. Rivers can’t run backward. Yet, he felt there must be an alternative, neither willfulness or resignation…

Edgar’s right, there is a way to meet this change—the new reality—without resistance or resignation. You can meet it with peace. Peace does not mean becoming a doormat. Peace means facing and understanding what’s driving your fear so you can view the situation with clarity. Stating your case without needing to defend yourself. Creatively finding another solution rather than being locked in the black and white. Taking care of yourself without worrying what others might think. Choosing to be at peace no matter what others around you are doing. Peace is the strongest position you can take—there is no need to prove or win, only to flow downstream with the river.