Change One Thing is the name of a book you don’t have to read. The title tells you everything. Oh, you mean if I brush my teeth starting right to left instead of left to right, all the molecules in my makeup will shift and start a domino sequence and I’ll be a different person with different experiences and nothing will be the same in this dusty overheated house?
Yep. That’s pretty much it.
Hmmm. I could almost buy that idea because I believe in causality. If you do something different, your inner dopey baby sits up and fusses for a long time but finally it gives up and goes to sleep.
Here’s the thing about change: it’s shy and shrinks back. You won’t notice anything unless you keep a detailed diary and track your behavior. One day, you are living a different life and it seems natural not some seismic personal restructuring like St. Paul experienced on the Damascus Road.
Does change automatically outpicture your wish list? If you’re like me you won’t remember what you wished for yesterday. It’s hard to decide what you want unless it’s specific like a better respiratory experience or a working light at the top of the basement stairs. Before I got up this morning I tried to dig up what I really wanted and could not come up with anything. Maybe a new mattress. Maybe you'd like a different state of mind, I coaxed. No, I like my muddled state of mind. It clears up once in a while. Maybe more success? No, I'm sick of success.
There was a line in a poem by Carl Sandberg that used to be my favorite. “I’m a sucker for things the way they are.” Now I know that’s a mean thing to say, Carl. You have to fight thoughts like that. I’m not an ingénue anymore. The sentiment sounds ironic and fey but it’s time to park the irony at the door and look at your life circumstances with grown up convictions and grown up expectations. Really?
Another snippet of poetry that stuck to me like a barnacle and became my mantra for a few years: “Like everyone else I am being tortured to death.” This thought might have some traction if we believe that life’s entire struggle for everyone is overcoming childhood. Or even before childhood - at the distribution of the dna that made our future a done deal.
Today, as I sit writing this post, I choose to believe that life as a struggle is an irrelevant idea. “Struggle” is just another word. Start brushing your teeth from a different starting point and see if anything happens.
Hey, as I’m about to close I realize that one year ago I wouldn’t have parted with irony for all the happiness in the world.