How to Change Your Life?

We must be willing to seize or refuse the opportunities or pitfalls life brings.

Posted Aug 09, 2018

Change can obviously come about in many different ways. We change because we age; we meet different people; we find different occupations; we experience different dramas; we change by chance and by design. 

Perhaps the great writers demonstrate this the best for us. If we look at the short stories of Anton Chekhov, for example, we can trace the changes that occur to us through the life cycle marvelously and realistically rendered from a story called "Grisha," where a two year old child is taken outside by his nurse and obliged to confront the sights and terrors of the wider world, is given alcohol to drink by his negligent nurse and comes home unable to express his feelings or what has happened to him in intelligible language to his mother. 

In "Oysters," a slightly older boy watches his impoverished father stand hesitating to beg for sustenance outside a tavern. The little boy who is starving is fed oysters as a joke by those who frequent the tavern.

In Volodya, a story of an adolescent boy, we see how a first sexual experience, a failure on an examination, and his mother's incomprehension and narcissism drives a young boy to suicide

In James Joyce's wonderful story The Dead, a married man learns of his wife's love affair with a young man who has died and is able for at least a moment to escape his own narrow preoccupations and reach out to all the living and the dead. 

Each one of these stories portrays a moment of awareness when an occurrence in the outside world impinges on the inner self which is permanently altered.

Other writers give us examples of how chance and an outside catalyst can bring change to our lives. Perhaps Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest examples of the marriage plot: the rich bachelor who arrives in the town and changes the lives of the young women who have designs on him. Or in Maupassant's Bel Ami, a young man without a penny meets an old friend by chance who starts his rise to wealth and riches. An outside catalyst arriving at the right (or the wrong moment) can change our lives for better or for worse.

In Jean Rhys's beautiful and tragic Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette Cosway's reluctant consent to marry Mr Rochester leads to her imprisonment at Thornfield and ultimate death.

In all of this, of course, we must be willing and able to seize or refuse the opportunities or pitfalls that life brings to us. We have to be aware of the importance of our active role in the choices life presents us. We must be prepared to learn from our failures, but still able to persevere in our search for a full and meaningful life.