Until recently, I had never heard of Mount Athos. While flipping television channels during the holidays, I landed on a repeat of a 60 Minutes show that originally aired in the spring of 2011. I was immediately intrigued by the story of a Greek monastery that precariously sits on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea and houses fifty-four devoted monks from around the world.
For over a thousand years, nothing has changed at the monastery. Nothing. Each day, the monks awaken at three in the morning, pray eight hours, and eat two meals—all without any idea of what is happening in the rest of the world. With no televisions, radios, and few phones, the monks have truly isolated themselves from everything except their devotion to God. No woman has ever set foot on Mount Athos, for she is not allowed.
As I watched in wonder, I silently contemplated what my own life would be like without change. What would it be like to do the same thing—day in and day out—without ever seeing another person besides those with whom I shared my living space? At first, I have to admit, I was comforted by the thought, already having discovered that there is great peace found in routine. But with a new year quickly approaching, I already knew what was lurking in the shadows waiting for the right time to pounce. Past experience had proven it was inevitable. Some type of change would be coming in 2012 whether I liked it or not.
To be honest, I’m like a lot of people. On occasion, I’ve been known to come out with both fists swinging in order to avoid change. Quite frankly, change can be scary. But as much as I shy away from change, I had to ask myself while watching the monks chant, "What would my life be like if nothing in my life had ever changed?"
I would have never moved to California from the cornfields of Nebraska. I would have never experienced the joy of love and the pain of heartache. I would have never known what it was like to backpack into bear country, only to be trapped in a blizzard and then have to fight my way out to survival. I would have never experienced the joy from the kind of laughter only my husband can induce in me. I would have never known what it was like to give birth and hold my son in my arms a few seconds later or adopt a baby from thousands of miles across an ocean and see her smile for the first time. I would have never known the excitement of attempting rock climbing for the first time and then the fear of clinging to a rock high above the ground and not knowing how to get down. I would have experienced what I consider to be professional success. Plain and simple, I would have never known.