Adapt, or Die Trying

From, Red admiral on cone flower, by Barnes, Dr. Thomas G. source FWS license Public Domain

I’ve been thinking about adaptation lately, both when it comes to gigantic, apocalyptic change in our personal lives, as well as what kind of changes we’d face if we survived the end of the world. Either way, nothing will ever be, nor ever can be, the same, and if we have any hopes of surviving, we have to adapt.

I’m still in the first year after the birth of my first child, and trying to find time for some things I cherish from that old life (like writing, possibly the opportunity to breathe). My husband has changed employers, and needs to adapt to a different company, different policy, etc. A close friend has recently moved a great distance to create a new life for herself, starting a new stage in her career, marriage, everything. All of us – and many more out there – have experienced our own little apocalypses, because no, life will never be the same. It doesn’t mean there has to be a negative connotation to the term apocalypse, but rather it acts as an indication of one life or understanding coming to an end, and the beginning of another.

It’s the interim – before  you figure out how this all works, what you’re supposed to do now – that’s the hard part. And I believe the same would be true for any kind of apocalypse.

So, imagine rather than just a major upheaval of our lives, we face the end of the world as we knew it on a more global sense. Perhaps there is no longer access to the conveniences of the day, society has broken down, possibly global collapse with limited communication beyond shouting at your closest neighbor. Whatever the apocalypse could bring, whatever the forms it arrived in, one thing is clear: it’s impossible to go on as before.

So what do we do now? Well, as the new day dawns on that new way of life, I think there are a few things which could help us adapt – and thus increase our chances of survival (simply mentally and spirtually, or otherwise).

1. Assess. It takes time to adjust to any massive change, and you can’t do it without first determining what change has occurred. How is life no longer the same? Why? What can be salvaged, and what needs to be discarded? What do you have power and control over, and what determines your actions?

2. Prioritize. What needs to be dealt with immediately, and what can wait? Baby’s need to be fed, leaking roofs need to be fixed, safety and well-being must be accounted for. Remember too that well-being can include things that you rate higher which maybe your brother or third-cousin-removed would not; if they help continue your well-being, than they need to be rated higher. Other things – like dusting, weeding, playing golf, well, they may not happen just right now.

3. Act. Don’t wait, but act. What you can control, control. Do what needs to be done first, which also needs to include taking care of yourself, especially at a time like this when the emotional upheaval could create major internal conflict.

4. Give and take comfort. You’re not the only one in this situation, but you’re also not worthless. Share both your heartaches and fears with others, but also be prepared to empathize with their own. Together, you’ll be stronger and more likely to survive and thrive.

5. Acceptance. That old life, whether wonderful, horrible, or maybe just wonderful in retrospect but nothing great when experienced, that old life will look better than the new one, for awhile at any rate. But eventually you have to look at the possibility that you can create an even better life – that massive change is an opportunity. (Yes, that means you, even if you’re a bit of a cynic like me, which means I’ll try to avoid looking at the lining of clouds, etc.)

6. Reassess. This isn’t an easy five step process – it needs to repeat. Sometimes, just when you think  you’ve got things under control, the whole situation changes again, which also means you have to start again. That’s okay – just be prepared to go through the process as long and as many times as you need and you’ll get there.

So here’s the thing – life just isn’t that easy, and every once in a while, it likes to throw some major curve balls. Maybe you catch some, maybe a few smack you in the face, but whatever the case – whether you’re dealing with a global or personal apocalypse – adaptation is a must. It’s hard, it’s messy, and for some situations, you’ll be dragged kicking and screaming into a new life you didn’t really want, or wish you could somehow fly back through time to when things were easier. But change and the apocalypse doesn’t have to mean the end of the world: just the beginning of a new one.

Looking forward to a new change? Fighting through one now? Or, have you arrived on the other side by now? Please, share what worked for you, your thoughts. Thanks for reading.


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