Several weeks ago a student came to me and said, “people don’t really change do they?” I did not respond at first, formulating my thoughts. “I mean, not unless they are faced with an absolute necessity. They don’t really make the change they need to, do they?”
It was phrased as a question, but it was really a statement. I smiled, knowing where she was going with this. She was having trouble with her marriage, and did not want to be the one left behind. She knew where it was going, but afraid to admit it, even to herself.
I smiled, as I often do. I knew that she thought she knew the answer. It was why she was phrasing it as a question.
“Everyone can change,” I replied. “But they have to want to change if they are to do so. We can push them to change as much as we want to, but unless they truly want the change, it will never happen. That is why sometimes, some people will discover that it is not change that is needed, but a rephrasing of the question.”
We spoke a while longer. On the idea that the first question that enters our minds is rarely the question we actually need to ask, but a way for our minds to explore the situation we face, to drill down until we find the question we need to find.
She smiled back at me. We bowed our heads, feeling our foreheads touch, sharing the moment and the energy between us. She smiled and thanked me before leaving.
As she neared the edge of the rug her pillow rested upon, I stopped her. “You do know that nothing you can do can make him want to change, other than to be yourself. If he wants you, then it must be you he wants. Not some vision you create for him.”
I could see a tear in her eye form as she smiled and nodded.
We both knew the inevitability of the situation before her. In so many ways, the outcome was set. But how long it would take to arrive there was the question. Would she cling to the safety of the present, knowing it was wrong? Or would she stay true to her own convictions and her authentic self, and let the winds of the universe sort it out, as it inevitably does?
Two days ago I saw her again. This time she was smiling. After our meditation she paused. “You know, I think he really cares for me, for who I am.”
“It was inevitable,” I said.
I am not sure she even heard me.
“Neither of us had to change. But our life sure did. We just had to remember that part of who we were is who we still are.”