Monday, May 14, 2012

Change is hard. Change is easy.

Let's start with some things that are obvious:

Change is hard.

That's a good place to begin, but I have to follow it with something equally obvious:

Change is easy. 

I often try to change. Lose weight, run more, get my work done, read more, watch fewer television shows, be more loving to my family, speak less, and so on. One thing pretty much constant in my life has been my desire to be different than I am. Most times, I've failed to achieve real and lasting change. I don't think I'm alone in this.

My failure to change comes when I run up against my first obvious statement: change is hard. I fall into old habits. I have trouble maintaining new habits. I lose focus. I give up hope. The usual stuff.

Or so I thought.

Looking at things now I see my problem  is that change is easy. I change daily.

Right now is when a great scene from The Shawshank Redemption comes to mind. One of the prisoners says, "Red, I do believe you're talking out of your ass." Red goes on to explain what he means and so should I.

For the last couple of days I haven't written these essays. I had published most every day for several months, so it would seem that the habit is established. But change is really easy and I stopped writing for a few days. I still did other things--reading, working, occasionally breathing--but I quit writing. It was easy to change.

Then today I changed again. I began typing. Nothing to it. I'm halfway through this essay and I know something that I didn't know before, namely what I meant by change is hard and change is easy.

It comes down to this: change is change and doing is all it takes. My problem has been that I'm changing in order to get somewhere. An essay is supposed to get me famous, lead to an avalanche of comments, and get me to write seven hundred more daily essays. It should also get me happiness, love, and fulfillment all the days of my life.

Looked at that way, yeah, change is a pain right in the ass.

Today I'm writing. What next isn't something I can say for sure and doesn't matter in this moment. What matters is this moment and the way in which I'm living it.

Once again, there's that line from Shawshank.

Being present sounds like new age nonsense. Crystals, psychics, chanting, and incense. But being present is a way that change is both easy and hard all at once. Being present lets me say, "I'm anxious and tense," without having to ask why or figure out what to do. It's about writing a word and seeing what word it leads to. I don't have to plan the sentence, the paragraph, the end of the essay. I have to think my way in this moment. Not through the moment. Not out of the moment. In this moment.

It would be wonderful to be twenty-five pounds lighter. An avalanche of comments would be ducky. It would be a dream to make my living writing. But trying to make those things happen is a fool's game for me. Instead, I need to consider right now whether I am hungry, what I want to say, and who I want to be in this moment. I have to accept what is and be open to what will be. I have to be active in the process of living this life and present to what I find.

And, as you may have guessed, it helps when I write on. So, you know what? For today, I wrote. Tomorrow, there's a chance I might write on. I hope you'll come back and see what it brings me.