There are some who say that change is the only thing that remains the same.  Change is simply a fact of mortality.  In fact, it is inherent in our mortal experience.  We are conceived.  A fertilized egg, over time, develops into a fragile fetus, receiving nourishment from its mother.  A fetus is born, becoming a neonate.  The new infant, no longer sustained by the maternal womb, is now cared for by many, unable to fend for itself.  With time, the infant will grow into a toddler, then a child, teenager, and young adult, all the while increasing in size and capacity – capacity to think, reason, perform, and accomplish.

Somewhere along this journey, something changes once again.  Reparative functions decrease, flexibility lessens, memory wanes.  Help is needed once again to move from point A to point B.  Caregivers return to nurture and support.  Ultimately, the mortal form, no matter how talented, how capable, how glorious, perishes.

To some, this may seem bleak – a beginning with the end already in mind – a life with an expiration date.  But one cannot escape the reality that is.  The real question is, how do we live with change?  How do we experience joy while struggling through the changes inherent in the mortal condition?

I would submit that it is our attitude toward change that makes the greatest difference in whether or not we are joyful.  Happiness has far less to do with what we have than it does with who we choose to be.  In my business, my team works to be what we call “high tide” individuals.  People who, when they come into the “harbor”, lift everyone and help them, just as the high tide lifts all the boats when it comes into the harbor.

Yes, we may say, but what if we do not like the changes that come.  There are many who do not look forward to the slow decline in mental and physical abilities that come with advancing age.  Is it possible to disagree with and dislike change while getting along with it?

Americans view on marriage has changed radically in recent years, culminating in a Supreme Court ruling that same sex marriage is now part of the law of the land.  Laws governing marijuana have also changed in significant ways in our state of Oregon.  And there will be more change – social, legal, economic, environmental, etc. – as time passes.  There are some who rejoice in such change and there are others who lament.

As we all press forward into the future, trailblazing our way in this landscape of change, let us remember this: RESPECT.

We may or may not agree with changes that come, but we can all respect one another.  And we can find common ground on which to build community and help care for the needs of those around us.  For example, I may believe that exercise is a horrific wrong and should be inflicted on no one.  Indeed I may even search out medical reports detailing the serious injury and even death of those who have been exercising when such injury or death occurred to prove my point.  Because of these beliefs, I may choose not to support the local YMCA because they are promoting the evils of exercise and fitness and I may lobby against the school system’s efforts to teach students the benefits of an active lifestyle.

However, we may all believe that it is important to support the local food bank because we feel that adequate nutrition is important for the well being of those around us.  We may even overlook our supposed differences and work together on food collection and distribution projects for the benefit of our community.  And we can do so in a kind and civil manner, respecting our differences and building upon our commonalities.

I encourage us to remember John F. Kennedy’s inaugural words, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  As change comes, as it always will, may we focus on a bigger picture of serving one another and building a more unified community where we respect one another’s uniqueness and individuality while holding true to those beliefs that we cherish and hold dear.


– Ed ;^)

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Dr. James Burneson

Our practice is working together to realize a shared vision of uncompromising excellence in dentistry.

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