God is Change

Writer's Hammock in Istria County, Croatia. Photo by Malika Ali Harding.

Writer's Hammock in Istria County, Croatia. Photo by Malika Ali Harding.

All that you touch you Change
All that you Change
Changes you
The only lasting truth is Change
God is Change
— Octavia E. Butler

"Have you read Parable of the Sower?" My friend slash counselor of the evening asked. "Octavia Butler wrote this religion called Earthseed into her novels. The central concept is God is Change. For whatever reason, you're flogging yourself over and over and over again, just for changing course. Why?" 

I think I know why. 

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.
— W.C. Fields

Five years ago, Dave Chappelle was feeling his way through a comeback tour. He hired a tech company to block the audience's cell phones, then did his thing on stage. Not much was memorable except one joke. I'm not Chappelle, so don't expect funny, but here is the gist. His son comes home despondent about playing a sport, maybe it was baseball. Chappelle asks, with paternal gentleness, "Son, are you enjoing the game? If the answer is no, quit. You are a Chappelle. And Chappelles are quitters!" 

We've been handed a lot of baggage about quitting. Quotes like, "Winners never quit and quitters never win," are branded on the back sides of our brains. I had become a cult devotee of this mindset. Winners never quit! But I wasn't enjoying the path I was on, so I had to evolve.

It’s evolve or die, really you have to evolve, you have to move on otherwise it just becomes stagnant.
— Craig Charles

The same year Dave Chappelle was fumbling through a comeback, I had decided I was sick of Hollywood. At this point, I'd spent about twenty years learning my craft as a screenwriter and trying to break down doors as a filmmaker. It was fight or flight time. Would I stay in the ring and keep taking blows? Or would I put on my wings and fly like an Inca over the Peruvian jungle? My body began to rise before my brain could holler, 'Waiiiiiit, winners never...'

"Quitting is not giving up, it's choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it's realizing there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it's learning to be more productive, efficient and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength."

- Osayi Emokpae Lasisi

Earthseed respects the past but it is a theology of the now and the future. This brought to mind the biblical story of Lot's wife. She's the woman who looked back and turned into salt. People have a lot to say about her. She's been called evil, wicked, etc. But I think she is a personified lesson in forward thinking. Her story is handed down to remind us to let go of our past or risk becoming, well salty.

"...the way plants seed themselves...windborne, animalborne, waterborne...They have no ability at all to travel great distances under their own power, and yet, they do travel. Even they don't have to just sit in  one place and wait to be wiped out."

- from Parable of the Sower

Several months ago, I made another major change. I sold my home of almost a decade and moved to Europe. I uprooted. Horticulturist have special prescriptions to avoid transplant shock in plants carried over to new landscapes. It's a sacred dance between watering and draining, sun but not too much sun, pruning the old leaves so new ones can prosper, and always fortifying the root. 

Like the horticulturist, I'm taking care, observing both my root and budding leaves in this foreign soil. Like Lot's wife, I'm learning not to look back. Like Earthseed devotees, I'm embracing the spirit of change. And like Dave Chapelle, I'm a quitter on a comeback tour.