Saturday, April 30, 2005

The times they are a-changin'

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

A wise man once told me a story about coats. A man wears the same coat for many years, and although it gets frayed and has holes in it, he keeps it because of its familiar smell and feel, and all the memories he has of wearing it. Eventually the coat is full of holes and falling apart at the seams, but the weather seems nice and rain is far away. So he puts the coat in a box in the attic, and promises himself to buy a new one. When he goes outside, he realises it's colder than he thought, so he rushes to the shops to find a new one. He tries some on, but they don't seem to fit, and it's too cold to wait for the right one.

So he goes home and takes the old coat back out of the box in the attic, and wears it every day in the cold and rain, and tries to smile even when the water comes through and soaks him to the skin. One day, he is wearing his old coat and walking through the shops, when he passes a perfect new coat hanging in a shop window. But he is so busy rushing along trying to keep warm in his freezing, holey coat that he doesn't stop to look at it properly, and the next day another customer buys the special coat. The next day, drenched with the rain that got into his coat, he promises himself to finally buy the new coat. When he gets to the shop, they have sold the last one. Every day from then on, he curses the poor coat that he is trapped in, and soon he catches a terrible pneumonia and dies miserable, cold and alone, still wrapped in his coat.

The moral of the story is that when the time is right to change what surrounds you, familiarity is a cold and convenient comfort; later on, you may not have the luxury of something new and warm to wrap around you. Sentimentality has its place, but it also has its perils. Sometimes you have a chance to move on, that may not come again, especially if you close your mind to looking for it.

Goethe once said: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Life often deprives us of second chances. The times they are a-changin' - move with them and embrace change.

* Editor's note; I'm writing this because recently I met the most incredible woman; a riddle wrapped in an enigma and shrouded in mystery. Instinct makes me think she has a special potential locked within her, waiting for the right change to embrace her and draw it out. Not sure who or what might be the catalyst; would that I had such fortune for it to be me...