In the 1989 cult classic movie UHF sing / songwriter ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic plays George Newman, an obsessive daydreamer who can’t keep a job, but ends up managing his uncle’s TV station. Throughout the movie a man in tattered clothing begs people for change.
“Change, change, mister…” he begs.
George ignores the man many times before finally reaching into his pocket and offering a handful of coins. Instead of snatching the money the man counts out enough coins to reaches 100 cents. Then he takes the change from George’s hand replacing it with a one-dollar bill.
“Gee, thanks mister” he says.
A new school year is about to start. Each year my kids exhibit feelings of excitement and nervous anticipation. My youngest son, now nine years old, reminded me of the school’s annual fundraiser called the Winter Store. The store sells homemade items by the 6th grade students. A great learning opportunity for students to learn about business, cost of goods, and profit margins
Several years ago I accompanied my two youngest sons, then six and eight years old, to the store. Each boy was given five dollars to spend on the variety of fun and unique items ranging in price from 25 cents to five dollars. When we arrived at the store it was filled with enthusiastic youngsters holding their precious money, eager to make a purchase.
My boys took quite different approaches to the shopping experience. The eight-year-old quickly snagged a couple of items he wanted asking me hold them while he socialized with friends. My six-year-old on the other hand roamed around and around the display tables, the vast options virtually overwhelming. As the time for school to start quickly approached I prodded him to make his final decision.
Only minutes before the bell rang he finally selected two items and got in line to pay. The older son had selected items worth exactly five dollars, his total budget. I noticed my younger son on the other hand had $3.75 worth of items. I brought this to his attention letting him know he had another $1.25 to spend.
“Quick, go find something else for $1.25 while I wait in line to pay” I said.
“No Dad. I want change” he replied with excitement.
Each boy arrived at the cashier’s table to pay. The cashier helping my younger son took his five-dollar bill then placed a dollar and a quarter in his small hand.
“Here’s your change” she said.
His eyes opened wide. He grinned from ear to ear. He lifted his open palm towards me showcasing his money.
“See, I got change!” he cheerily said before scampering off to class.
The idea of buying something paled in comparison to the joy of getting change.
Change evokes the strongest of human emotions – sadness, remorse, anxiety, and fear; contrarily eagerness, excitement and enthusiasm. Change is a constant. It is inevitable; often viewed as something to endure.
Sometimes we control change, often we do not.
This year I’ve changed jobs. Changed industries I work in. Had family changes with the loss of a parent. But I am reminded of the powerful example a six-year-old showed me in how to approach change.
Altering our paradigm of change is liberating. It could be time to recognize change as ‘getting back, more than giving up; moving forward, more than leaving behind’.