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Accepting Change

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The world’s climate, its population, healthcare, and my brother’s hormone levels are all currently changing. I did not suddenly notice an increase in people when the world’s seventh billionth person was born. Sometimes I am unsure if global warming really exists. And right now the United States healthcare system seems too confusing to comprehend. But I have seen a dramatic change in my twelve year-old brother.

We gradually change a little bit each day: we learn something about ourselves, we meet a new person, or we have a talk with a loved one that alters our perspective. My brother has grown one year older every May. He sporadically increases in height and every so often he loses another tooth. This year, however, it is slowly dawning on me that he is transitioning from one stage of life to another. Instead of simply adding some weight and height and knowledge, as he does every year, he is beginning to change in a much different way.

The Greeks have two words for time “chronos” and “kairos”. The former describes quantitative time measured by specific increments like hours, days, and years. Chronos time reminds us that we can put things off until tomorrow, because time will repeat. Kairos time, on the other hand, is more qualitative and can never be repeated. “I shall pass through this world but once…” as the poet Stephen Grellet writes. Kairos is defined as the opportune moment, when circumstances are ready for a significant event.

The changes my brother is undergoing remind me that time is kairos. He is growing up and he will never be the same little brother who needed my help getting dressed, or who begged me to read to him in funny voices. People say he is maturing. He showers every day now- so that he smells nice for the girls, and because he sweats so much! He is tall, a sign of manliness and it terrifies me to think that someday soon he will be taller than me, his older sister.

The physical change in him was totally spontaneous. He shot up over the summer and suddenly our mom needed to buy him longer pants. But it was the change in his thinking and his feelings that struck me the most. I realized that he was going through a period in his life that would only happen once and that would allow him to grow from a boy to a man.

When I acknowledged that my brother had changed, I then recognized that the way I treated him and interacted with him also needed to change. One day, I understood that he knew a lot about the world, about the Italian prime minister and about the geography of Europe. I was talking to my mom asking for help with a history paper and he came in to the kitchen wondering what we were discussing. I dismissed him, not wanting to waste my time talking to someone who could not be of any help. But he surprised me when he voiced his opinion on the state of the Euro in Europe today.

At that moment, I saw how much my brother had grown. He was gaining on me, physically and intellectually. His mind and his body were changing rapidly. He was hurt when I told him to go away, which indicated to him that I did not value his opinion whatsoever. That incident taught me that if my brother was ever going to see himself as a man, I needed to support him. I had to treat him like more of an equal and less like a kid. By respecting his ideas and giving him the credit he deserves, I would show him that the world would also respect his ideas. In addition, it would help him develop confidence in his own abilities.

Change must be recognized. People who prefer to stay stuck in their ways, with their own ideas, will die never having grown up, and never recognizing all the cultures and experiences that are out there.
We each are responsible to accept change, to permit change. If I never began to see my brother in a different light and accept his growing intelligence, then he might have doubted himself and never grown beyond his current lifestyle. If my mom never bought him new clothes, he would look ridiculous wearing t-shirts a size too small and could potentially be ostracized by his community.
It is important to see time as kairos and to accept moving on through the transitions of life. Change is inexorable; it can be frightening to recognize that we can never return to the years that we have left behind. But change is also a beautiful, inevitable aspect of life. Each year presents opportunities to open our minds to new things. So, while change may seem imperceptible or even confusing and frightening, you may be unconvinced it is even happening, as with population growth. And other times it may be significant and material and inescapable and overwhelming, as when a boy’s voice drops or he begins to value appearance more. Accepting the kairos element of time helps us appreciate that life moves inescapably onward, and helps us approach change as a positive time of growth and learning.



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