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Bonnie Brown: Is Change Really Necessary?

You know the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well it applies to me, to my life. Change is not easy for me. And I’m not just talking about things like Daylight Savings Time, although that is certainly one of them. I try to adapt more easily by planning for Daylight Savings Time by changing the clocks in the early-evening hours and attempting to intentionally adjust to a different allocation of daylight and darkness. Whew! Change! Ugh!
With so many things in our world changing at the drop of a hat, it’s daunting. Our lives change in so many ways–the weather changes daily, seasons change, our government changes (seemingly daily), relationships change, diets change. The list goes on and on.
I feel so blessed in my life that I don’t want anything to change. I have two wonderful sons who are kind, loving, productive human beings. Chalk one up to prayers and persistence in child-rearing. They gave us two beautiful daughters-in-law and five amazing grandchildren. I even said to my granddaughter Piper that I wanted to freeze her just the way she was and she wisely responded, “But Gan-Gan, I have to grow up!” But I don’t want her to. I want them all to remain just as they are now. I already know that my sons Dennis and Jeffrey grew up too quickly for my liking. One minute they were toddlers, then first grade, then high school graduation and adulthood. How quickly time passes!
As a young mother, I thought that once these babies could talk and tell me where they hurt, if they were hungry, what they needed, the rest would be easy. Little did I know that would not be the case. It didn’t get easier. There were the usual growing pains, the punishments that seemed so ineffective because I had raised such resilient children. The transition from little boys to young men happened so quickly. I am immensely proud of both my boys and still don’t want them to change, to age. Because if they do, then so must I. And as I’ve already said, change is difficult for me.
And I’m not talking about just the inevitable aging and change. I’m so anal that when something of mine wears out-a shirt, a purse, an appliance-I want another one just like it. There’s an older movie, a comic love story, entitled “Murphy’s Romance” starring James Garner and Sally Field. Garner is a pharmacist who falls for Field’s character. He is older and set in his ways. An example of this is when he goes into the store and asks the salesman for a shirt just like the one he’s wearing. I’m just like Murphy. If you like it and it suits you, why change?
In my opinion, manufacturers should consult with me before they re-brand their merchandise. I shop by label color and brand name but mostly by label identification. It’s just plain sneaky when they alter the label or appearance of the mayonnaise, cereal box, detergent. You get the picture. And you cannot convince me that it is actually “new and improved.” If I wanted change, I’d abandon my chosen product and try a different brand. I understand that it’s a method they employ to attract new customers to their brand. Well, it ain’t working if this approach alienates their loyal customers.
My 14-year-old washing machine recently spun its last load of laundry. It was crippled beyond repair. And even with the promise of a new, shiny replacement machine, I was really sad about this. Why? Because I knew how this machine functioned. It was wonderfully familiar. I knew exactly how much detergent to add, how long the cycle was, what its capabilities as well as shortcomings were. But the allure of a shiny, new machine was powerful. Yes, I was transitioning from the familiar agitator-driven, knob-style oldie-but-goodie to the unfamiliar agitator-less. I was ready! Or was I? The day my new machine was delivered I was completely unsettled about the whole ordeal. I quizzed the delivery man, as if he had any expertise in the complexities of this new brand of washing machine. After all, he was just the delivery man, not the product design manager. I expressed my concern by explaining that this washing machine (and new dryer too) cost 3 times more than my first automobile. Yes, it was a used car, but still. With almost every purchase, I calculate how many hours I had to work to buy it.
I was flummoxed by this machine that had seemed so perfect on the floor of the big box store. It looked so pretty-yes, pretty. But it had fewer knobs and more electronic gadgetry. Which brings me to another worry. At one point into the wash cycle, the lid locks, a menacing red light comes on and the machine is in control. I am unable to toss another wash cloth in or re-set the cycle in any way. Is that it? Am I unhinged because I have to surrender control to this appliance? Yes. I think that’s it.
My husband Tom looks at me with concern. He is thinking that I’m definitely unhinged when an appliance brings me to the brink of . . . what? I don’t shed any tears but I am definitely a little unnerved. I pass by my laundry room and look at the shiny machine and say aloud that I love it! I do this in an effort to convince myself that this new appliance and I will bond and this new technology will grow on me. Maybe that’s why my husband is concerned. He knows that these adjustments, transitions are difficult for me.
Do my aversion to change and my crazy attachments to “things” come as a result of having left my favorite baby doll at my grandmother’s house those many years ago, even though we retrieved her the very next weekend? I cannot say. I only know that I am most comfortable when things in my sphere remain unchanged. But wait. Can my condition be treated successfully? Perhaps some “retail therapy” might be in order.

Bonnie Brown is a retired staff member of the University of Mississippi. She most recently served as Mentoring Coordinator for the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy.
For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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