Bursts of Change
By Equality Rider Chelsea Fullerton
During our twelve-hour drive from Dallas, TX, to Colorado, an unfortunate lack of internet connection combined with a propensity for motion sickness that dates back to my childhood resulted in the rare opportunity for me to sit back and enjoy the pictures framed in the large square windows of our bus. The landscapes were breathtaking: flat, grassy land that stretched for miles, plateaus comprised of red soil and covered with prickly bushes, and, most magnificently, an inactive volcano.
The volcano lay surprisingly close to the road, which was lined with oddly-shaped black stones, remnants of explosions past; they had emerged from the volcano’s large mouth many years ago as molten, fiery lava, and had plowed their way through the fields below, destroying everything in their path. Despite their immense power, in time, a hard outer shell was formed, and their once-fluid state gave way to an impenetrable solid that was cool to the core.
As we drove past, I wondered aloud, “Who would want to live in a place like this?” I thought of the risks inherent in living life at the mercy of something so volatile, so unpredictable. I thought of the loss that pervaded the existences of the families whose livelihoods, built up over decades, were suddenly and crudely destroyed in a matter of moments, leaving nothing but ash in their wake. And I thought of the rush of emotions – surprise, foreboding, fear, and inevitable loss – that hit each individual like a wave as they felt the ominous rumblings beneath their feet, heard the low, steady roar of the awakening beast, saw the spurts of the blazing liquid begin to escape from the top of the strange mountain where they had built their home.
Sometimes, I think that I’ve built my life at the foot of a great volcano. I strive and struggle to maintain tenuous control, but occasionally, the ground beneath me begins to shake. The reverberating, cacophonous music of impending change stirs my soul, and as the notes travel up and down, from astonishment to apprehension to alarm, I brace myself for the unknown. It happens much faster than I always thought it would; years of preparation, of carefully calculating, of writing and re-writing to-do lists crumble into little more than dust at my feet, and I am left to survey the vast landscape of plans gone awry.
The beauty, though, of ruin, is that it necessitates the creation of something entirely new and different. Empty space and broken ground become the forbearers of splendor never before witnessed. Entities that ceased to exist until the fires of change molded them become permanent fixtures that, in time, I realize I have grown to love so much that I can’t imagine life without them. Eventually, I realize that, although another eruption may come, living in fear is no life at all. Eventually, I learn to lean into the discomfort that comes with change, resting in the knowledge that falling apart gives me the invaluable opportunity to rebuild myself the way I was always meant to be.
About the Blogger:
An advocate and ally from Athens, GA, Chelsea wholeheartedly believes in the fundamental worth of all people and strives to empower them to gain the tools and opportunities that they need to find meaning in life.
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