I am listening to the wind howling outside, sipping on a giant cup of coffee, and staring, bleary-eyed, at my computer. Sunday mornings are usually run days, but today there is a tropical storm buffeting the coast of Texas; I am not on the coast, but close enough to the coast to get some of the outer wind and rain from the storm. I can handle a bit of rain, but I just do not run in winds over 20 mph unless something is chasing me, so I do not feel too bad about sitting this morning run out.
This leaves me with the dilemma, though, of having to come up with blog-fodder without the stimulation that sweat and a pounding heart can bring forth. I got up very early this morning so that I could take care of some work and decided it was also a prime time to write in my daughter’s journal. I do not write in it nearly as often as I’d like, since my journaling sessions generally don’t go less than an hour and a half, but I try to get to it a few times a month.
I also try not to sit down with any set-in-stone ideas about what I am going to write. I try to take a very “channeling the spirit” approach, beginning with a thought or an idea and just letting the rest take shape by itself. It turns a bit preachy at times, but the point isn’t to be preachy, just to pass on personal knowledge, to try to provide insight that I had to get the hard way, or to give her some guideposts that might be specific to her personality, since she may take after me a bit (heaven help me!).
I started off telling her how fussy she has been lately…. This is not so that I can point to it when she is older for a good guilt trip…. It’s just been an overarching theme in our lives for the last week. I theorize that she is ready to walk, has been for several weeks now, but is not for whatever reason. Perhaps she hasn’t mastered the muscle skills yet, but I think it might just be a confidence issue. I think that it is frustrating to her, this inherent understanding that something new should be happening but it isn’t yet.
I went on to write about how this has happened often in my life, how I have learned, the hard way, of course, that change is usually something that is going to happen whether or not you want it to, and it will overtake you whether you fight it tooth and nail or surrender to it gracefully. I can count multiple times that I have gone the kicking and screaming route, draining myself of energy that could have been used in much better ways, determined for some unknown reason to resist with all my being. I have two traits that I think have affected how I react to change. One, I am not open to new experiences (that’s actually one of five basic personality traits on a personality test). Two, I am very stubborn and don’t like to be told what to do.
Thus, I have been less than graceful in the past at accepting change. Basically, I have often waited until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change. But I have learned, I hope, from these experiences….. I can tell when I am ready for change because I become anxious, irritable, restless… It’s as if I no longer fit into my own skin. If I choose to fight change and prolong the process, I will remain in this anxious, irritable, restless state indefinitely, until I am forced to relent or the change just takes over completely without my cooperation.
But if I recognize this signpost early, I can start taking baby steps towards the change. It is not always comfortable, but it gives me some modicum of control and allows me time to adjust as needed and embrace the change as it is coming. It is a much more relaxing way of doing things.
As I was writing all this in my daughter’s journal, I started thinking about how this translates to the human race in general. I have often lamented the way we seem to prefer to do things: take action only when something has become an emergency, avoid prevention, wait for someone else to take the lead, waste all our energy on fires so we are too burned out to handle long-term problems.
I have worked in organizations that run on this mentality. It is nightmarish.
My being a product of the society I was raised in, it is counterintuitive for me to look forward and begin walking towards change before It is thrust upon me. And as finite creatures, I can see the merit in waiting/fighting change. There are only so many hours in the day, only so much energy we have to use, only so many things we can focus on at once. Along that vein, it makes sense to wait to pay attention to something until it has become an acute problem. But sometimes I wonder if things might actually be the other way around. That the reason we don’t pay attention to something until it is an acute problem is because we choose to spread ourselves so thin that we can’t afford to pay attention to anything that is NOT an acute problem.
The world is moving pretty fast these days, and continues to move exponentially faster as the population grows and technology advances. I think it is human nature to want to push our limits, to want to do more, be more, understand more. And that’s all well and good. What bothers me is when we get trapped running in circles. When doing more becomes an ends instead of a means to an end. When we become convinced that we must do more and have more just because. Because we’re supposed to.
Watching the world around me, I feel a sense of collective anxiety, irritation, and restlessness. Like we’ve kind of missed the point and we know that we have, but we don’t want to recognize it because that would mean that we would have to change. That’s the problem with change, even if it is change for the better, it is often not welcome because it is uncomfortable, not to mention it suggests that there is something wrong or not as good with the way things already are.
I think this is why there is such a market for self-help and mindfulness and meditation and yoga these days. Goodness knows I have entire days when I continually have to remind myself just to be present. The fever pitch of life sometimes makes me feel like I am just throwing things into a void into a vain attempt to feel “okay”, and it never really works, or it never really sticks, anyway. I feel a recurring urge to throw away my smartphone and destroy my clothes and junk my car and go and live in a commune, and I don’t think I am the only one. There is a part of me that knows that somethings wrong and that change will become necessary one day. But I am still waiting, waiting for the moment that change becomes easier, and who knows when that will be or how bad things will be by then.
This all sounds pretty apocalyptic, but please understand, I am not a doomsday prepper, just someone who’s always had a guilty conscience but didn’t really worry about it until I had a daughter. She is the reason that I want to embrace change sooner rather than later. She is the reason I blog. Which isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing. Maybe it is the first step towards surrendering… with grace.