It’s hard to change.
Even while constantly, continuously, there is absolute fool-proof evidence that EVERYTHING changes and there is no avoiding the ever-shifting nature of time and experience — from the earthquake that just interrupted my family’s dinner preparation to the fact that my once instantly responsive dog now wanders aimlessly, deaf and clueless — we fight so hard to resist the current.
I know I’m not releasing some ground-breaking realization or even saying anything relatively new. We’ve all been fed the adage “the only thing constant is change,” often to justify difficult transitions or mystifying sacrifices. I, for one, get a little irritated being thrown this cliché that does NOT make switching mindsets or expectations any easier. But even when I’m stuck — like super-glue-between-10-year-old-fingers and tongue-on-freezing-metal-pole-at-recess stuck — I can’t ignore the fact that the roller coaster keeps on rolling, whether I’m buckled in and safely inside the cart or not.
AND, while most change occurs without prompting or even desire, it’s reassuring to recognize that we, as the sole helmsmen-and-women of our own lifeships, do possess the ability to steer our courses of change to our preference. Now, whether that change actually benefits us or plays out is almost irrelevant. As is the materialization of our actually seizing the steering wheel or not. Sometimes, it’s enough to know that we can change, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the present moment.
For me at least.
It’s also hard to commit, especially if you’ve spent what feels like your whole life always chasing the next impressive task and adhering to a prescribed regimen of thought (hmm… kinda sounds like someone I know…cough everyone cough).
But I’m at the point where I know I need to direct my own change. I’m ready (I think) for a couple hard things — namely, committing to change. I’m tired of living in a self-consuming hole rolling around in Grade A molasses minus the sweet and only the black, sticky properties — tar, in other words. I’m tired of knowing I’m simply sabotaging myself before I even depart for the sheer satisfaction of predicting my own failure. I’m tired of finding exciting blips far in the future to cast my sight on and avoid feeling my present self.
Every time I let the thoughts of expanding, strangling bleakness penetrate my purview, that rut in the road wears a little deeper and my steering wheel bucks out of my hand again.
So here’s my practice, for now: when that constraining, familiar shadow inundates my senses, I WILL find a way to counter it. A simple way, with just a few replacements and adjustments. For example:
“I’m upset because I knew I was full and then kept on eating”
can turn into
“I knew when I was full and it’s awesome I’m in touch with that cue”
“I wasted so much time this summer and was really lazy”
can be heard as
“I learned what it’s like to watch the days pass and I’m glad I don’t always have to be busy”
“I didn’t write a blog post in over a month and I can’t keep a commitment”
“I waited for inspiration and didn’t want to clog up everyone’s emails and time with meaningless ramblings” (ha..ha… that one’s for you)
You get the picture. I don’t need to get too self-indulgent.
I’m not advocating for “find the good in everything!” or “be happy” or “just smile!” or simply ignoring realities and misfortunes in pursuit of restful dreams. I am a firm believer in living to the fullest extent and truly being, whether in pain or pleasure. In my better moments I espouse philosophical enlightenment and rousing declarations. But in my not-so-good moments I could use a little contrived stimulation to remind myself that this is all I’ve got and every molecule of my breath is intertwining with particles of ancient thoughts and it’s as real as I believe it to be.
I have a feeling most of us in this modern era recognize that our societal structure is counting on us swallowing the fuel of fear and scarcity (time, money, food, energy, space, love), internalizing insecurity and operating on doom. Hell, I get annoyed when someone is “overly cheerful” or optimistic. Annoyed. That is not a peaceful and fulfilling existence.
So here’s to grabbing the helm, even if it’s with a pinky that will most likely slip off by tomorrow. Here’s to realizing that trying to end obsession hasn’t worked and if that means faking it — at risk of insincerity — until you do or don’t make it, well, that’s a worthy endeavor all on its own. Here’s to embracing discomfort and suffering because there’s a reason we have tears and screams.
Where is your bow pointed?