change, inevitable and all-encompassing

Originally published on 04/05/2013

Why do all good things come to an end?  Something inside wants to say that they don’t have to or that they won’t, that good things can/will continue on in a never-ending state of goodness.  As I look out the window of the train, things flash by, quickly into and out of existence almost faster than my eyes can register them.  Things I will never see again.  A slowly decaying Soviet apartment complex appears and is gone, as if time crumbled it away before my eyes.  A birch forest grows out of ground and withers away all in the instant our train winks by.  Ashley, looking out the window over my shoulder asks me, “Do you think creative writers are born, or that creative writing is a skill people gain?”

Without hesitation, I answer, “Yes.”

Yes meaning that some are probably born with certain talents, while others persist until they achieve some skill, or some combination of the two.  We discussed what role a child’s upbringing plays in their obtaining of certain skills; what the parents could do to help the child, and what was left up to the child to decide him/herself.  I cut my finger on the edge of the train ticket as I reached into my bag.  As a huge dollop of blood splattered on the floor, my face paled.  Ashley says that our children are going to have the same problem.  And it is most likely true.  I mean, my dad gets queasy even when people talk about blood around him.  I don’t know about my grandpa, but he is probably just like us.  Anyway, it was one nasty ticket-cut.

Our conversation evolved into what others think of us when we change.  How some people say things like, “You should just accept me for how/who/what I am.”  Now, I realize people frequently are seeking acceptance, validation, or something like that when they say such things, but we hypothesized that such a mentality implies a lack of desire to progress.  Sometimes it is simply easier to be stagnant.  At the same time, we considered how sometimes, when one starts to change something in their life, others perceive it as “false” or something to that effect.  Perhaps a fear of progression?  Maybe.  Maybe it is something else.

For the record, we were talking about writing skills, not about anything political or whatever.

Anyway, we came to the conclusion that change is scary.  But it happens.

Krasnodar is a beautiful city.  The Muscovite winter seems to have survived all the rites we preformed out in the forest.  But here, spring is already in full swing.  What I found most striking were the buildings, especially those still under construction.  Although they were brand new, they appeared to already be in some state of deterioration.  The plaster covering the bricks in places looked as if it had only just been smeared on the wall, in other places was already crumbling away.  Metal was rusted.  The very foundation was shaken.  As soon as we’re born we start dying.After arriving in Krasnodar, I thought, “Why on earth did we not fly directly to Sochi?”  Oh well.  After an interesting wc experience (anyone who has been, knows what I’m referring to… anyone who doesn’t  email me privately and I’ll inform you), we ventured out into the city until the train to Sochi arrived.  We instantly started sweating.  It was only 68 degrees… But considering that yesterday in Moscow it was snowing, I suppose that makes sense.

I guess we had better (not that I advocate “eat, drink, and be merry,”  but we should have a good attitude, and have a good time.

Speaking of dying.  I was talking with one of the guys recently, and he told me how when he was leaving his mission he was saying goodbye to an elderly lady and he knew that that was the last time he would see her.  She has passed away.  I’ve felt that too, I think everyone has.  During this trip Ashley has lost two very close family members.  Our hearts, of course, are with her family.  Death is hard to deal with because of the change it represents in our lives.  Life in that we know that we must continue on without those people.  Death in that we know we’ve lost them.  All jumbled up into an emotional dichotomy of life vs. death, which leaves us confused, hurt, and pining for those who have passed.  People fall through the cracks… We’ll never see them again, at least in this life.  But we should always, always remember them.

Yesterday Ash and I went to visit Lydia Ostravets.  We arrived about an hour and a half late.  After apologizing profusely, she said that there was no help for it, because I work with Russians.  I suppose that could be true… But this time, it was purely my fault.  Perhaps the Russians are Russifying me, however.  She then had us eat.  Whilst walking from the bus stop, I told Ashley that I bet the education of our first child that she would feed us the following:  a salad composed of tomatoes, cucumbers, raw cabbage and onions, a smear of mayo, some vegetable oil, and cat hair; followed by, what is best described as an eggroll… but not the Chinese eggroll, but the Lydia eggroll (lavash and egg salad with fresh dill); then the main course, chicken on two pieces of bread.  All of which is washed down by tea that is a thousand degrees, and which never cools.  Seriously, she must have a magic chainik.  Anyway, I guess our first child is going to get an education after all, because right after taking off our coats, she rushed us off to the kitchen.  It was good, besides the cat hair… and Lydia hair.

Then we talked for a couple hours.  Intermixed with tea breaks, she showed us a photo album of her first missionaries and other missionaries.  She knew everything about everyone in the pictures… Literally everyone.  Even though some of it was obviously fantasy (for instance, there was a picture of Elder Jessee standing on a boat with a huge fish.  The boat hand, a scrawny Filipino kid, Lydia claimed was his brother…), I think that the fact she remembers the people is absolutely fantastic.  For Lydia, everyone is important; she doesn’t let people fall through the cracks.  Even when distance and time has created a separation comparable to death; she will never forget, and tries to break barriers with emails and letters…

I’m especially bad at this, I forget and lose track.  I can’t even keep in touch with people.  I don’t write people.  I don’t even call people back sometimes… Sometimes emails sit in my inbox for days before I answer them.  I’m socially lazy.  Worse, I let people fall through the cracks, losing relationships that I could have maintained if I put forth even the smallest effort.  I need to learn a lesson from Lydia.

Lydia sends her love to all those she knows:  Mechum, Jessee, O’Bryant… She remembers all of you.  She told me that sometimes she’ll pull out the album just to look at the pictures of her missionaries.

Obviously, we mean a lot to her.

We’ll all grow old.  Even though Lydia says she is young, the years are wearing on her; it has been a long time since the 20s.  We naturally move from one stage to the next, no matter how hard science tries to slow it or stop it, the naturally progression of life will move on.  Even if our bodies didn’t age, our minds would.  Imagine being a hundred year old mentally and physically 21?  I think that might be hell.  I think we’re meant to die.  We’ll have a body that can live forever when we can mentally handle it.

Anyway, things change, and that is the point of it all.  I don’t know if I’m thinking about this so much because of the time of year… Or because of all the change in my own life.  But I am.  I am changing.

Change is there, inevitable and all-encompassing.

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