When Things (Finally) Change

We all know the adage “Change is the only constant,” and we see proof of it in everyday life. But have you ever dearly wished that an aspect of your life would change…but then months go by, sometimes even years, and nothing seems to budge? Or worse, it does change…but it becomes a different brand of bad?

That seemed like the case with me. I almost lost faith that I’d ever get a good outcome from a longtime problem. I’ve worked under various difficult managers for years now…I became so accustomed to the pattern that when I changed jobs, companies, industries even and the dynamic followed me to where I currently work, I didn’t bat an eye. I saw the familiar path unfold as my new role and the new cast of characters formed, and a part of me merely shrugged with a sense of uncomfortable familiarity. Numb. I settled into tolerating that aspect of my job on most days.

Yet, another part of me wished things would change. The situation spurred me to dream about ways the massage industry can be improved. It also made me think about what leadership really is…and what happens when the wrong “leader” is put into place. (I’ve been working on blog entries for both thoughts, but they’re still a bit bigger than what I can grasp at the moment. This is a big reason for my months’-long hiatus…if you’re keeping up with my spotty posts, thank you so much for your patience.) And despite accepting on some level that I was stuck in a familiar boat, I did take action for things to improve: I prayed. My Buddhist practice has been sleepy at best for a while now, but this particular problem was something I was able to pray about. In November I also took responsibility within my Buddhist organization, SGI-USA.

We Buddhists believe that if we don’t change any causes that we make, then our karma will accompany us wherever we go. As some have termed it, the set and the cast of characters may change, but without making a different cause the same ol’ movie will play again. By the same token, when we make a different cause, we’ll get a different effect. And this is how we can change our karma in our present lifetime. (There’s more to this concept…see http://www.sgi.org/about-us/buddhism-in-daily-life/karma.html.)

Last week, however, something shifted. The thing. The manager at my spa, who seems to rest only when she’s made someone else uncomfortable or unhappy, was finally let go after two years there.

It seems that the movie has changed. Or has it? My little mind is fretting now. Did I really make a different cause that leads to work becoming a more tolerable place? I did make a big cause for others’ happiness by taking responsibility in SGI in November…but is there a connection between that action and this manager’s fate? (For the record, I never outright prayed that this woman would lose her job; rather, I prayed for joyful unity and total victory at this spa. And I felt bad for her when I heard the news, although rumor has it that she’s already found another job.) 

I guess I should stop worrying about it or analyzing my karmic path, enjoy what there is to enjoy and keep up with these new causes I’ve made to reinforce positive change. But I can’t help but feel a bit baffled to have encountered such a big victory after two years of suffering, a bit worried that the old movie will get hooked up to the projector, and a bit mystified by the possibility that I actually have some power over the outcome of my life. Fellow Buddhists think Of course you do! We’re not put on this planet to suffer. This experience may mark the restructuring of my foundation in faith. Let’s see what else my Buddhist practice can affect in the year ahead.

So, enough about me. What’s one thing you’d like to change before the new year? What’s one cause you can make that breaks a familiar pattern of yours? I hope to hear from you! Happy holidays, and have an incredible 2016!