Gradually, then Suddenly
I stayed indoors for a couple of days last week, trying to get some writing done. Jean said I should go out for a walk or something. She was right. When at last I emerged into the sunshine, the leaves had changed colour and fall was in the air. Like Hemingway's character describing how he went bankrupt, the seasons had changed "gradually and then suddenly."
My divorce was like that. It was years in the making. I even lamented to my wife at the time that the marriages of two of our friends seemed to be heading for the rocks. But then, suddenly, ours got there first. I can't say I didn't see it coming. But it had been coming for so long that it surprised me when it actually happened.
Often, change happens when finally we realize that it's already happened, when we admit to ourselves that something has ended, and that something new has begun. In a sense, it happened to us, without our consent. Our only role was to call it.
Carl Jung said we don't solve our problems so much as we outgrow them. I think this is what he was talking about. Life has a way of working itself out through us, regardless of how much we think we're in control. We're not.
It is a matter of some maturity, available perhaps only to those of a certain age, to yield to life rather than to stand in its way. The seasons are going to change whether or not we choose to go outside and notice. You snooze, you lose. How much better to wake up, pay attention, and enjoy the ride. The end comes gradually, then suddenly.