For years and years I knew I needed to replace my car. It was costing more in repairs than it was worth, but I didn't think I could possibly afford to take on car payments. I certainly wasn't thinking about anything expensive, or even new. But I kept pouring money into my existing car because changing cars entirely just seemed like too big a commitment, too big a risk.

Then my car blew out its transmission one evening and suddenly I found I could afford another car. To phrase that more precisely, I found another car I could afford. Newer, not new; very slightly smaller than my little sub-compact, but it has everything I need from a car. The monthly payments? In one year, they amount to less than I spent on the old car for repairs in 2018. I trimmed things out of my budget and it all worked.

Something similar is happening now with my computers. I'm a techie, but the kind that repairs my own computers because I can't afford to buy new equipment. Or so I think. I use computers for my work as a book designer and publisher, they're essential. But I'm still using systems I bought when I started my publishing company in 2007. When Windows 10 came out, I dragged my heels, worried that if I had problems with it, it would interfere with my ability to work on freelance jobs.

So I hung on to Windows 7, which Microsoft stopped supporting last fall. I hung on and hung on, wondering if I could afford to upgrade to Windows 10, hesitating because I'd need to do it on more than one computer ($$$!)... And then one of my computers, fortunately the "backup" system, not the main one, went tummy-up. I could replace its hard drive--that's easy. Re-install Windows can't do that anymore. And besides, it's kind of pointless. Eventually you have let go.

So it was time to take the leap and upgrade. And to my surprise, I find that I can afford it, after all. It's all going much better than I feared/expected it to go.

I'm telling these little stories to illustrate how wrong we often are about change, especially big changes that take time, effort, ingenuity, resources and shifting our comfortable habits. When we see change ahead, we often fear that we'll come out the worse for it. We look at the most negative possibilities. Even if we don't consciously articulate it, our imaginations run off with nightmares of "the worst that can happen."

I'll buy a new car and I'll hate it and can't afford the payments, the car will be repo'd, I won't have any transportation to get to work, I'll lose my house and be homeless.

My computers will screw up upgrading to Windows 10, I'll lose my important files, I won't be able to get freelance work, I'll go broke, lose my house and I'll be homeless.

Those are my nightmares, but other people have different ones.

If I send my child back to school for hybrid learning, he won't learn enough, he'll start acting out, DCF will break up my family, my child will end up a failure on drugs and die of an overdose.

If we change our government to be more compassionate and really take care of other people, my taxes will go up, the country will turn into a communist dystopia, everything I own will be taken away and I'll end up living in an internment camp.

I won't say it's normal to be afraid of change, because I'm not sure that's true. Sometimes we look forward to changes with great excitement and anticipation. That's why we get makeovers, look for better jobs, buy new homes and even get married.

It has become normal--or at least, standard operating procedure--for Americans to dread and fear change. We are among the most reactionary of all the developed nations. This is a problem because right now, profound change is happening to us whether we're ready or not. We have no choice but to adapt, because COVID-19 isn't going away, and you can't shoot it with a gun. The more we resist adapting, and doing what needs to be done, the more people will suffer.

Because it isn't change that causes the worst problems. It's trying not to change, to hang on in the face of the irresistable force--that's what will break us in the end.

Inanna Arthen