I listened to this funny takedown of the popular book Atomic Habits recently, and it was such a RELIEF to get out of the self-improvement trap for a few minutes, remember that we are not machines but human beings with physical needs and unknowable souls. One of the problems with all the self-help books being circulated (and I’m a sucker for them) is that they usually don’t recognize life is seasonal, cyclical, phasic, changing moment-to-moment. And we are changing moment-to-moment. What works for one person won’t work for another. What worked for me last year (or even last week) might not work for me now.

Recently, a friend shared that she had been reluctant to call herself a runner because she didn’t “stick with it” like other runners. Then her child said to her, “Well, this is what you do. You go to yoga in the winter, and you run in the summer.” And my friend thought, “Oh yeah—that is what I do! And that doesn’t mean I’m not a runner!”

It used to work for me go for a walk early in the morning before anyone needed me. With just one driving teenager in the house now, I have much more control of my time, and I’ve realized I don’t like to leave the house before 9am if I can help it. I want to read, write, have a second cup of coffee, do some prep for the day’s meetings because I can think so much better in the morning than in the late afternoon. So, I try to walk or swim in the afternoon.

And maybe you are going through big changes. Your spouse died; you’ve become an empty nester. You lost your job or retired; you are facing illness. You’re learning new skills, you’re changing gender or sexuality, finding faith, or losing your religion. You are navigating your child’s diagnosis, newly parenting, or going through a midlife awakening.

My friend Elie shared this song with me—What phase is this? All we do is change. So, tell me—how long do I get to keep this phase? Whatever phase it is, whether we love it or hate it, the one thing we know is that it will change. We will change.

Riding my bike to work yesterday morning, I noticed two instances of grandfathers playing with grandchildren in their yards. What a beautiful phase that is, one I might get to experience someday.

This phasic life is exhausting sometimes, but I’d never choose the opposite, staying the same. There is too much to wonder at. Kevin Kelly says, “I noticed a pigeon the other day. It had fantastical colors, incredible bearing, and shimmering feathers. I feel sure that if there were only one of these specimens alive in the world, we would all agree it was the most beautiful bird in the world. We’d push and shove to see it. And almost every moment in our lives is a pigeon overlooked. May we notice and be grateful.”

I notice you here with me and am grateful. Whatever phase you’re in, may you feel and know that it is holy and impermanent.