I used to cling to a mantra that encapsulated everything I thought and felt, and was conveniently and succinctly put into three words:
Change equals death.
I know. It sounds … dead on perfect, right? Like I nailed life for nearly all of us, yes?
Except, every time I uttered this phrase and expected to get a high-five from the person listening, I was instead greeted with the fusion of eyebrows. It was like I’d asked each one of them, “Can you make any part of your face look like a caterpillar?”
I don’t say the phrase out loud anymore.
It’s not that I don’t like entomology, but rather, I’m trying much harder these days to embrace change.
It could be both.
I’m not sure.
I have been incredibly lucky to have been given a plethora of experiences on this particular go round—this multi-decade drawing in of sustainable breath. Experiences that have allowed me to steep in, or wade in, or dip a toe into the pool of at least three things I have been passionate about thus far:
(Yeah, yeah, the whole childbearing thing has been grand as well in case the two of you are reading this.)
Moving from one to another—or even doing two simultaneously—has proven to leave me with heart palpitations that prove I can be a pretty fearful person. Or that I’m housing a really large tapeworm.
But it can be hard to give oneself permission to explore and be curious.
Being a grownup requires discipline.
And a huge sense of humor when catching a reflection of yourself when stepping out the shower.
But mostly it requires the understanding of multisyllabic words like: Timeliness. Efficiency. Quality. Obstructionism. And all these things—when done in concert and with proficiency—can produce the thing most folks are seeking:
Now, defining what a payoff means to any one individual may fall on a wide spectrum of meaning and significance.
In the past I have assigned it to mean something that will end up paying the electricity bill.
But sometimes we need to feed meters in other areas. It’s so easy to dismiss the importance of learning something new because effortful thinking can be … well, effortful. And who truly likes to have sweat leaking out their ears? But paying the brain bill is crucial. And especially worthwhile after the reward of newfound knowledge and skill bathes you in a golden glow of self-congratulations.
It just feels damn good to get smarter.
It’s happened to me at least twice.
Once when I figured out that there was a filter in my vacuum cleaner. And the second time when I figured out that it was a waste of time to vacuum.
Other things that have paid off for me during the last few months?
Naps, fresh air, walks.
Yes, I’ve found the answer to life is to live like my dog.
A dog that can drive, and read, and open a bottle of wine—true—an unusual breed, but every day that puddle of sun on the wooden floor is increasingly comfortable, and I’ve gotten used to peeing outside at the edge of the woods.
I’m only kidding.
I never go as far as the edge of the woods.
There are the other myriad bits of horse sense that every day grow to sound more reasonable—I wouldn’t call them aha moments but rather duh moments of realization.
Anger is a waste of time.
Righteousness is a waste of breath.
Tantrums look awful from a 71 year old civil servant.
I think you all know where I’m going with this one. Nearly all of us survived a year where it felt like our country was thrown into a giant Yahtzee cup, shaken until our teeth began to rattle and then tossed out onto some new horrific cardboard landscape in the 2017 version of Life.
And I mean nearly because thankfully Hasbro has decided that this year’s version would be updated with a space that says, “If you have shamelessly behaved in any lewd and licentious way, the rest of the players are free to vote you straight off the island.” So yes, the dominoes are falling in a sweetly satisfying design of their own making.
Enough with the game metaphors.
My point is, we’re surviving.
But is surviving enough?
Sometimes it feels enduring is all one can do when surrounded by an unhinged political circus that has the annoyance factor and efficacy of a fruit fly convention. (Dear God, may it have the lifespan of one as well.)
Maybe we all just need to remember that if we put out one overly-ripe and near to rotting piece of fruit all those vexatious pests will make a beeline straight for the cesspool (or cesshouse or cesshole) and feast themselves to death while the rest of us get on with work in a gadfly free zone.
And maybe that work means making some changes so that we can ALL continue to keep the American dream alive—the one where we’re encouraged to see just how much of a difference we can make on this planet by discovering our talents and skills. A chance to see just how far we can push the limits on the human experience.
So maybe change doesn’t equal death always. Maybe, I will have to consider that if I stubbornly set my talons deep into the earth where I now stand, I will deserve getting flattened by the giant 64 wheeler flying down the highway and coming straight at me.
Sometimes it only takes a few steps to the left or right, just enough to get out of the way of your own demise.
Just follow the chicken.
What I’ve come to understand this last year is that change is actually a choice. And choice is a freedom. And none of us should ignorantly pass up the opportunity to exercise our freedom. In a world where more and more of us are being stripped of our liberties by those who are in power, it becomes easier to see that the phrase Change equals death should be altered to Change equals fear.
This makes a lot more sense when trying to parse what’s happening around our globe.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We have a choice. So let’s make a change while we still can.
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