Bear with me, would you? I realize how the title of this post alone could lead you to the conclusion that this a giant, oxymoronic cop out. Change by Not Changing? What the what? But there is a method to my madness. Some rationale behind my decision-making process. Not much. Not the sort that holds water. But some. A few weeks ago, I was talking to my therapist about this blog. (Yes, I understand it will shock you to know that someone as together as I am has a therapist. Even diamonds need polished occasionally. Now you know.) I’d been struggling with this project of changing. It isn’t the actual changes I’ve selected in past weeks, although those have given me plenty of trouble. What I’ve been struggling with is the philosophy behind feeling like I need to make all these changes.
I found that a by-product of weeks and weeks of change-focused thinking was the attendant conclusion that if change was necessary, it must be because I am defective. In other words, it’s difficult for me to think about things I need to change without internalizing the message that there is something wrong with me in the first place. It was, for lack of a better turn of phrase, bumming me out.
I felt like my thinking about it was all screwy. I felt like I needed a break from changing. I considered taking a week off from this blog, but my ego wouldn’t let me. So then I wondered what would happen if I just spent a week not changing. By the very loosest definition, wouldn’t that count as a departure from what I’d been doing and, therefore, qualify?
I mulled over and over in my head the crucial issue of semantics. Was I spending the week trying not to change or not trying to change? It struck me that there was a significant difference between the two. I didn’t want to resist change; I wasn’t going for stagnancy. It wasn’t a staunch refusal to evolve. It was, instead, the latter of the two: not trying so hard to change. Just being. Going about my life and seeing what it looked like when not filtered through a prism of: change, you need to change, you must change.
I needed some time to sit with myself, quietly and feel okay about wherever I happen to be right now. You could go so far as to say that it’s not so much about changing or not changing as it is about accepting things exactly as they are. Which is no picnic, either.
The benefit of this relatively calm period was that when I wasn’t focused so strongly on transformation, I was able to reflect on how much I’ve already changed. I wasn’t so focused on the Next Big Undertaking that I failed to notice how much this journey has affected my daily life. It afforded me a little temperature-taking.
I noticed that, for the most part, I’m still a daily bed maker. There have been one, maybe two, days since this all began that I haven’t started out with a freshly made bed. My prayer life and stabs at meditation are evolving far more slowly, but they are evolving. I don’t know yet that I eat a whole lot less meat than I did before my week of being vegetarian, but I sure think about eating less meat. Does that count? A little?
I’ve gotten better at letting things go. It’s not always my go-to reaction, but it’s easier to land there when I’m finished my mental wrestling. And exercise. Since last week’s crazy foray into exercise, I’ve managed to stay committed to moving around. Not as vigilantly, but the forward progress is there.
In fact, ironically enough, if there’s anything I learned from taking a week to stop changing it’s that I’m still in motion. I’m still making progress even when I don’t feel like I am. Something about the gentle nature of that observation allows me to feel better again about this idea of pursuing change. It allows me to reframe it not as an indictment of my current state but as a reinforcement of it. We change not because we’re flawed, but because it’s part of the human condition. We are programmed to move forward, so we do. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. It just means we’re living.
Or so I think today. Check back with me next week when I’ve actually been trying again.