Sunday, July 14, 2024

Turn and face the change

by Margaret E. Davis
| July 30, 2023 12:00 AM

To become more proficient at my website duties for work, I recently took a WordPress course at Flathead Valley Community College. The wry observations of Shannon Hanson, the instructor, came sprinkled in with the lessons, as in:

“People want change, but they don’t want things to be different.” He held up his hands in a “What can you do?” pose.

The reverse also rings true: People want things to be different, but they don’t want change.

State Sen. John Fuller, R-Kalispell, delivered one of the most striking moments of last fall’s political season at the Discover Kalispell house and senate candidate forum. We packed the room at the Hilton Garden Inn on Sept. 22 for the special edition of the chamber’s Business Matters! Luncheon to hear our electeds and some of their challengers.

For a question about child care, Fuller launched into his answer, and I paraphrase: It used to be every family had a mother, and the mother provided the care —

He stopped. The room full of civic leaders, workers and boosters held its breath. Many were women with families who worked in and outside of the home. It also was a room full of men, who likely do the same.

Often the future comes sooner than expected. Time stood still as everyone took stock of then, in the context of now.

Earlier this month I had my own tiny moment of registering change as I cleaned out the old car to transition into my next vehicle. My son and I unloaded the trunk and checked all the dusty cubbies and crevices.

We found some good stuff, such as sun shades that had gone missing for years and that thumb drive full of vintage photos of historic Kalispell movie theaters. Crammed tight into the door of the back seat was a slim deck of Pokemon cards. They used to mean everything to the (now) teenager who’s moved on to rap and hip-hop.

We can’t change the certainty of change. That’s the source of our frustration with it. It highlights our lack of control and the folly of foresight as it neatly sidesteps expectation.

Reactions to change vary widely. For every Chicken Little there’s someone blithely owning a devil-may-care attitude. As information sources proliferate, particularly those without verification, the range of reaction to change will grow ever wider.

One thing seems wise: We could learn to bend with change, or respond to it as an opportunity for improvement. Change shouldn’t break us.

I don’t go anywhere around the valley without hearing about all the change in the area. Without the ability to dip our lives into amber (who would want to?), and granting the value of venting, why not look ahead to the possible positives?

At the candidate forum, Fuller resumed his speech. The room breathed again.

Not everything has to change so fast.

I recently took ChatGPT for a spin. It turned out a “500 word column about Kalispell” in an eyeblink. The column was terrible.

I’ll keep writing the old-fashioned way — for now.

Margaret E. Davis, executive director of the Northwest Montana History Museum, can be reached at