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Embrace Change or Change Will Embrace You

October 12, 2012

By Sarah Oba

“Embrace change or change will embrace you.”   My friend’s parting words explaining his exodus from Japan echoed and resonated within the caverns of my mind and heart.  Over the years, I have never forgotten the simple messages expressed in both phrases – similar words and yet completely different attitudes; letting go versus holding on.

To embrace change signifies an acceptance and adoption of a new outlook and an ability to integrate the idea in one’s own life and philosophy.  One is greeting change willingly and eagerly in the same way as accepting the subtle shift of the four seasons.  As each season presents its unique set of challenges and opportunities, there is a sense of trust in the natural ebb and flow.  A horrendous typhoon rain offers the opportunity to stay indoors.  The strong winds and rains are among those uncomfortable transitions we must endure for the moment.  Experience has shown us that inevitably once the rains subside – a beautiful day awaits with gentle breezes after the storm has passed.

In the arts, it seems simpler to accept the beauty expressed in transitions.  In the world of music we welcome the creative hint of change in the modulation from one key to another.  In literature, we are engrossed in the text while crossing a bridge to a new place of discovery in a poem, article or novel.  We sit at the edge of our seats in the theater as the plot of a play or movie unfolds. Well-crafted transitions within the shelter of the arts later provide in-depth and innate courage to face transitions of our own whenever faced with real-life situations.

Embracing involves the sense of feeling and touching.  We may first smell the fragrance of change in the air.  We may hear the murmur of change whispering in the wind.  We may see the news reports giving clues of the emerging change.  However, we remain asleep to the signs of change until they knock at our front door and we feel and touch them firsthand in a warm embrace.  We accept the change as a guest welcome in our homes or as a long lost friend.

And what if we elect not to open the door?  That will not stop the construction of a new passage.  The difference is that change will encircle and enclose our existence as on an isolated desert island.  To be embraced by the change without our soul’s permission is to be adrift at sea- an immense ocean of separation- or to be enclosed in a prison of one’s own design without having a key.

The next time I hear that well-meaning, yet empty flattery of “You never change” or “you haven’t changed a bit”, I will respond with a new outlook.  I am changing in every second and every moment.  We are essentially creatures of change.  It is as natural as the air we breathe in and out, the blood that courses through our veins, and the embryo from which we grew in our mothers’ wombs.

The creation of life itself begins with the art of embracing.


About the author: Sarah Oba is a long-term resident in Japan who has worked with various community service projects in Tokyo and throughout Japan through her work as a Presbyterian missionary. She also provided assistance with the development and pioneer phase of the Tokyo Wesley Center. In response to needs after the earthquake in 2011 in North-east Japan, she coordinated a shelter for migrant evacuees fleeing Sendai, Ishinomaki and Fukushima regions, based at the Tokyo Wesley Center in cooperation with the Embassy of The Philippines. Through this experience, she has observed the importance and power of non-for-profit grassroots networks in making a real difference for the true needs of people in crisis situations. Whenever possible, she attends the Friday evening peaceful anti-nuclear demonstrations in Tokyo, in front of the Prime Minister's Residence. She encourages others to join those events to show their concern for the global ecosystem.
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