I got my hair cut today. Just a trim. Nothing drastic. I’m sure only the very observant will notice that anything is at all different about me. That’s how it is just about every time I get my hair cut. I’m not a big fan of change–both in style…as well as in life.
Today’s highlighted quote from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series deals with just this subject–change.
“Well, that was life. Gladness and pain…hope and fear…and change. Always change! You could not help it. You had to let the old go and take the new to your heart…learn to love it and then let it go in turn. Spring, lovely as it was, must yield to summer and summer lose itself in autumn. The birth…the bridal…the death…” (Montgomery 1992c, 212).
Change is one of the big themes in the Anne series. This quote occurs in the sixth book, Anne of Ingleside, after Anne is grown with six children. Since the first book, readers witness loads of change in Anne’s life by this time. The following two books bring even more change, especially with the arrival of World War I.
Change is inevitable. This theme is not limited to Anne’s story only. It is a truth in everyone’s lives. As the quote describes, even the seasons reveal constant change. Last week, I was working in the garden with the sun beating down, but the arrival of autumn has brought cool weather, clouds, and mist. Soon, the leaves will be changing to brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds. Some change is good like that. Other change is less bearable. For me, the transition from autumn to winter is a hard one. Except for Christmas and snow days, winter for me seems like a heavy weight, as I’m trapped inside for months.
The same is true in life. There is good change and bad. Sometimes, it’s not even that black and white. Some change that brings good can feel difficult. This past year has been a year of transition for me. It feels like the song from The Lord of the Rings: “Home is behind, the world ahead, And there are many paths to tread” (Tolkien 2004, 78). Change means leaving the known behind. Stepping into the unknown–however beautiful it may prove to be–can be scary.
In the series, Anne refers to the big changes in life as the “bend in the road.” When Anne finds out in the first book that she will be teaching for awhile instead of following her original plan of going to college immediately, she says:
“When I left Queen’s, my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does” (Montgomery 1992b, 303).
This view of change reflects Anne’s generally positive attitude, but isn’t it a good attitude to share? It also gives the impression that we can choose our attitude. Change can be scary, but we can choose to believe that good will come. This may not change the future, but it can change the here and now.
Yet even Anne struggles with the bend in the road. After a couple years, the time comes that she has been waiting for:
“Joy and regret struggled together in her heart. She had come at last…suddenly and unexpectedly…to the bend in the road; and college was around it, with a hundred rainbow hopes and visions; but Anne realized as well that when she rounded that curve she must leave many sweet things behind” (Montgomery 1992a, 230).
When the point comes that Anne does get to chase her long held dreams, she does not deny that the change will bring good things. In fact, she expects wonderful things to come from this change. The only regret she has is what she leaves behind.
That is the most difficult part of change for me, too. There are some days when I suffer from bouts of nostalgia. Everything I see, hear–anything I do–reminds me of how life used to be and never will be again. I count myself lucky that I come from a past that is pleasant to look back on, but the joy of remembrance also brings in a little sorrow.
“You had to let the old go and take the new to your heart…learn to love it and then let it go in turn” (Montgomery 1992c, 212).
This is the solution. We can love the past, but not at the expense of the present. When I originally read this quote, I wondered, Will I eventually look back on these days with fondness? I wondered if the present people and places would ever be as dear to me as the old ones were. That’s something I don’t have an answer for. That’s something I can’t make happen. I must simply live life and pray that God allows me to be a part of the life that’s happening around me.
This is the second a series of posts discussing different quotes and themes from the Anne of Green Gable series by L.M. Montgomery. Find the other posts here! Since there are so many lovely quotes in this series, I will also be featuring some of them on my Instagram account, which you can check out by looking on the sidebar of my page or by following “beautyandthemessblog” on Instagram.
Montgomery, L.M. 1992a. Anne of Avonlea. New York: Bantam Books.
——. 1992b. Anne of Green Gables. New York: Bantam Books.
——. 1992c. Anne of Ingleside. New York: Bantam Books.
Tolkien, J.R.R. 2004. The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.