Tuesday, October 22, 2013

embracing change and fighting for things.

{photo via Lucky Magazine

You've heard me wax philosophical about book club before. It's a bright spot in my month, a time when I gather with friends for just an hour or two to discuss what we've read, why we loved it, why we hated it, why it made us cry. 

In January, book club will celebrate its fifth anniversary. Five years of gatherings. Barely anything in my life is that consistent, that regular, and the truth is, like any habit, book club has been hard to keep. It is hard work to gather with friends, to take time out of the busy-ness of life, to keep going when numbers are low and people move and leave and quit. 

There have been times, this past year, when I wondered if it was time for me to move on, to leave book club behind. Life has been chaotic, and my friendships have changed, and time is a little harder for me to come by these days. I started book club when I was lonely, when I wanted something "grown-up" to take up my evenings, when my marriage was new and work days were long and a little bit boring. Book club came into my life at just the right time, with just the right kinds of people, and I wondered if maybe it was time to say goodbye. If book club, like so many things this year, would just slowly end, would quietly bow out of my life. I wondered if book club was seasonal, and if that season of life had ended.

But something kept me hanging on. I wasn't quite ready to give it up. And so I fought for it. Our numbers dwindled, but girls kept inviting friends and family. I did too. It was as if I needed one thing in my life to stay the same, knowing, of course, that it would still be different than it once was. But I am learning an important truth: Different doesn't mean worse. It doesn't always mean better, either. It just means different. And it turns out? I am becoming pretty good at adjusting to different. 

So last night, five of us gathered in my living room. I baked pumpkin bread (something I never do), and we laughed and visited and stalled until one of the girls could finish the last few pages of this month's book. Our group is made up almost entirely of newcomers now -- there are only two original members from that first group that met five years ago -- and I'm okay with that. It's different, but it's good. We visited and talked about the book, about other books we'd read this month, about life and how hard it can be, but how good it can be too. I had so much fun, and I was reminded, yet again, that there are blessings in this year. I am being stretched in all kinds of ways, and it's hard -- gosh, it's hard -- but it's good, too. I am changing and growing, and last night, I realized just how much, and I am so grateful I didn't give up on book club just yet.

I know that book club will change again. There are babies on the way, and early next year, Jordan and I are hoping to move to Thomasville. I'm not sure yet what that will mean for my involvement. But if I've learned anything this year, it's to plan my life in pencil. I like planning. Planning is good; it works for me. But to clench my fists and stiffen by back and refuse to change or submit, to hold firm to my plans as if they're permanent? That isn't working for me. 

When I unclinch my fists, when I embrace the changes, when I loosen up, good things start to happen. Last night was good. It was a reminder that friends are there if we are looking, that books are -- as I've long suspected -- a uniting force, that different is just different, not better or worse -- and life, as we all know, is full of different. 

Our plans change. Our friendships change. Our lives change. But some things -- like book clubs and dinner parties and gathering with people we love, new and old -- are worth fighting for.


RA said...

Oh, yes, this: "When I unclinch my fists, when I embrace the changes, when I loosen up, good things start to happen."

Brittany said...

I've had the exact same experience with book club this year. I've almost left mine so many times (when I just can't face the 45 minute drive after nine hours at work), but those ladies, new and old, full rooms and dwindling numbers alike, they fill me up every time I'm with them. And sometimes we don't even get to the book.

I like your attitude. Let it be. Let it be, and things will happen.

You're the greatest, Annie.

Betsy and Bryan said...

This post was a much-needed reminder, thank you!

I understand how tough change can be. My husband and I got married in June, moved to a new town right after the honeymoon, and started new jobs within the month. I've had to say goodbye to all my friends and family, and it's been hard to adjust to the newness of life here, especially when I'm still struggling to find a rich sense of community that took me four years to build in Tuscaloosa.

You are so right though--"different" doesn't mean "bad" or "less", and every relationship has to have a starting point, right? It's definitely encouraging to think about it that way :)

Thanks again, kindred spirit!