Things Change, People Fall Apart

The cussed thing about life is that it doesn’t stay the same.  It is definitely a moving target.  Just when you feel your ducks are in a row, a hunter ventures on your land and fires.  The ducks scatter; and you are left on the side of the pond, watching the feathers settle.

Chinua Achebe describes events in Nigeria that put our own existence in proper perspective in his novel, “Things Fall Apart”.  The chaos of other people’s worlds puts my own in solid perspective.  My son stands in the dining room doorway and gently says, “Things change; people fall apart.”  I smile and sip my herbal tea and think Things change…people fall apart….And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.

But even though one’s world might seem to be spinning, the plates whirling off of the dining room table as the planet goes round and round, still, one can find one’s calm in the center of chaos.  I’ve been reaching for calm for months on end; and I can see it, hovering, elusive, just in the distance.  I lean towards it, reaching out my finger tips, and I feel its coolness still beyond my reach.  I know that I can step another foot and find it; I know how much courage that step will take.

My grandmother, Johanna Ulz Lyons, used to tell me to put my best foot forward.  “Which one is that, Nana?” I’d ask, every time.  “The one going forward first,” she would say, every time.  And I’d step forward, in my penny loafers that she bought me at the shoe store next to her business.  I’ve been putting my best foot forward ever since.  Even if things change, even if I fall apart, I’ll be moving forward still, towards the calm, towards the peace.


3 thoughts on “Things Change, People Fall Apart

  1. Joyce

    You’ve bought up an old memory, from 1969 of all times. I was in Ibiza, alone, after breaking up with my boyfriend who convinced me to go overseas with him; about a year later, we split up.

    I was still a mess when I ran into Jules, an old nyc friend. We spent some time walking around the Island and talking, talking, talking, sharing our common history and everything that happened since.

    We climbed up to the top of a very high and steep, volcanic rock hill. We marveled at the view and where we found ourselves. As we started to head down what I now saw as an almost vertical descent, I was suddenly terrified. “Just put one foot in front of the other and it will be all right”, Jules said. And it was.

    Since then, when I don’t think I can do something that I need to do, what Jules said, always comes back to me. “Just put one foot in front of the other and it will all be all right.” It has worked every time.

    We share a very important lesson and understanding.

  2. Liz

    I have to say I didn’t know I was reaching for calm till something happened in my relationship 2+ weeks ago that quickly and unexpectedly opened my eyes. While the hurt was inflicted upon me, I reflected quite a bit on how things were in my life and the part I played in getting to this fork in the road. My partner made a sincere and concentrated effort to make up for this hurt which I accepted. But this was just a culminating event of a trend that had been occurring. The everyday stresses and demands of life had made me ambivalent to my relationship and lacking as a partner. I had several heart to hearts with myself over a few days and realized if I wanted more, he probably did too and there was no time like the present. It’s amazing how little effort I have had to expend to make a positive impact on our relationship and in turn, relieve myself of stress and unhappiness. I really feel so much lighter and while I understand things can’t always be butterflies and sunshine, I have a calm and peace that 3 weeks ago I was too self-involved to reach for. And the funny thing is I really didn’t have to reach that far for it. Just wanted to share. 🙂


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