We speak in the results business of achievement coming from motion. I have long tried to
reconcile that with the assumption that character is unchanging and that values should be
immutable. We say we need roots, rocks, and anchors—things that keep us centered by
themselves staying put.
I heard something last week that helped me answer that. It came in the wonderful memorial
service for former first lady Rosalynn Carter. One of her children said that while people saw
Rosalynn as the rock for the family, that she was actually a fierce adventurer. Her character
was bonded to causes and curiosities far more than to familiar ground.
Her values were constant, but their expression was always growing. Another of her children at
the service noted that, while holding a baby in Africa she said, “These are all my children.” Her
idea of a family grew mightily.
In this service came a related idea–what it means to have a “solid” foundation. In Rosalynn’s
case this was her 77-year-old partnership with her beloved Jimmy. The rock-solid marriage was
actually a springboard. It allowed and enabled venturing out. Further, nothing was said at the
service about staying true to her vows. This marriage was not based on obligation. It was the
living willpower of two persons whose joyful love gave them space, time, and support to thrive.
Thank you, Rosalynn, for helping me to better see that rocks can move. This lesson reminds
me of a wonderful line in the play Inherit the Wind: “All time is relative. Perhaps it is you who
have changed—by standing still.”