Finding the Constant in Your Life


By Alex Newhouse

Recently I’ve found myself describing my life as a runaway freight train. At some point in the last year, it began changing so rapidly and in so many ways that I basically threw up my hands, gave up trying to make sense of it and simply went with the current of my life. New experiences presented themselves almost weekly. In a blur, I found myself living in San Francisco on my own, working at a job I loved but, in all honesty, didn’t know how I had landed. I developed new relationships almost without realizing how they came to be. There was no room to breathe; the winds of change whipped at me so fast that I couldn’t stop to rest.

I’m sure that we all feel this way at some point in our lives. It’s common. We go through changes; we experience new things. But that does not mean that these times are easy. In fact, they’re probably some of the most challenging stretches of time we will ever face. There’s a reason why phrases like “the winds of change” have been created. Change is a whirlwind, and it is often hard to find anything to ground you. I’ve certainly had this trouble over the past year.

But during these periods of time, more than ever, we have to find those constants. We latch onto those familiar things, not letting them go, refusing to acknowledge that certain aspects of our lives might be over. I am still struggling to find my constant, that thing to pull myself down and allow myself time to breathe and recover. But how do you hold onto something like this without living in the past? How do you slow down that rapidly accelerating train to help yourself deal with change? 

Perhaps we need to do something different. Maybe, instead of latching onto time at home or high school friends, which are generally fading away, we need to embrace familiar things and senses. I’ve found mental comfort in the snow, something I’ve grown up with all my life. I’ve connected the snow with the feeling of being at home, or even just my home state, and so every time I look outside and see it snowing, I feel familiarity grow within me. In a sense, it’s a lesser version of the experience of seeing an old friend after months apart. However, in this case, it happens more often. Snow is a signal for me to take a break, to put my mind to rest and to sit still and calmly for a few minutes. 

I have found this feeling elsewhere, as well. Hikes, skiing, going on walks with friends, the way the sun shines over the mountains in the morning—all of these things can help me feel a little more in control. They are signals. Small, frequent occurrences that cause me to pause and be embraced by comfortable familiarity. They allow me to place myself in the world. So often my mind races beyond the edges of my immediate life. Having that sense of place, that sense that things really haven’t changed that much, has given me the ability to continue on with this life of revolutionary change.

It’s the little things that matter. We try not to worry about the little things, but so often it’s the small, insignificant moments every day that can change a person’s perception dramatically. Although I still have immense trouble achieving this, finding those small signals decreases the mind’s focus. It brings one’s perspective so much closer and more immediate that those large, overarching thoughts are left behind. It replaces the frantic chaos of our lives with a grounded, comfortable feeling. As far as I can tell, it is the feeling of knowing that not all is different—that even as life seems to hurtle onward without my input, each moment is not all that different from what I know and love.