One dictionary definition refers to transformation as a complete change, usually into something with an improved appearance or usefulness. In the drawing I’ve included, a man has recently shaved his face. It could be a hygiene issue, a rash or something. It could be that his significant other prefers him when he’s clean-shaven. Maybe his boss doesn’t approve of beards. There are so many forces working on us to make decisions that can precipitate change and, ultimately, transformation.

I believe that transformation is ongoing. It could be as simple as a shave or as complex as committing to a new relationship. What’s intriguing to me are the forces driving the transforming, and how many of those changes are actually dictated by choice. The dictionary definition states that the change is usually an improvement. Our clean-shaven man wanted a positive outcome: healthier skin, an admiring partner, a happy boss, perhaps.

I’m talking about personal transformation, what happens when we as individuals make changes. Aging is an enormous transformation. My Mom is 86 and has Parkinson’s. As the disease progresses she is forced to make changes; her world is becoming smaller. Obviously Mom didn’t choose Parkinson’s and she’s grieving the many losses she’s experienced. As she dims down into the disease I hear her spirit and sense of humor coming through when she whispers in my ear.

The changes in Mom’s life are taking place so she can live more easily. Are they useful? Yes. Chosen? Not by her.