Sometimes you get a life lesson in the form of “blinding glance of the obvious.” I had one of those today.
A few weeks ago I noticed that one of the fluorescent tubes in my basement was “going.” You know what I mean: there is a sort of dull and annoying flicker, not quite like a strobe light, but enough to bother your eyes if you’re around it long enough. I am seldom in my basement—basically I go there to do laundry or put something in the recycling bin—so I’d forget as soon as I was out of range of the dimming bulb. My short memory was probably also due to the fact that changing the bulb would mean getting the ladder out and moving a lot of stuff around to reach the bulb. Today though, I had a handyman at my house to do some other things: so, I added changing that bulb to his to-do list.
After the handyman left I went downstairs to recycle and—holy cow—it was amazing the difference! Evidently, my fluorescent tube was not just “going,” it was on its last legs: the contrast was that profound. And now I got to see what it was supposed to look like: no more shadows and no more need to squint! So naturally (for me anyway), I got to thinking about life and how things can deteriorate so slowly that you don’t even realize that it is happening. Sort of like a toothache: it starts out as a dull throbbing and suddenly one day you just can’t bear it any longer. Or like when things you had banished from your life practices creep back in: a cup of coffee on a random Sunday can morph into a grande caramel latte every day. It’s also like relationships that we slowly begin to take for granted and then one day we notice that “it’s not the same anymore.”
I know it’s early to be talking about resolutions, but I have one and I’ve decided not to wait until the New Year to be proactive about it. I am hereby on a crusade to nip a few things in the bud. I have had some stuff on a “to do” list for over a year now: little dumb maintenance things affecting my life, work and even my health that I would benefit from addressing now. In some cases I just need another handyman sort of helper to get something done. Some of my other stuff will require a more focused effort on my part. No matter, I’m off and running. I can see the light!
Photo Courtesy of Flickr:PYoakum
I am an erratic journaler (which may explain my tendency to blog erratically as well). I started chronicling events of my life on June 1, 1995. I remember the date because it was the 10-year anniversary of a love relationship I was in at the time. It was also the day I discovered his infidelity. There was quite a lot to write.
Today I got out my diary for the first time since October when I realized that the book was full and I needed to go downstairs for a blank one. I started to flip through and I got drawn into that “Memory Lane” place that diaries and photographs are known to foster. I was reminded of a delightful “gratitude party” some friends invited me to. I relived a trip to London where I threw my back out and had to depend on the kindness of strangers to help me maneuver luggage. I recalled speaking to a group of women who gave me a standing ovation. Of course there were the downer entries as well: flat tires, silly misunderstandings, crap at work. The events themselves were interesting—to me anyway— but what I was really struck by was the opportunity I had to sort of watch myself evolve. Looking back over the months and years of entries, I realized that seldom is meaningful change instantaneous. That big decisions are usually not made over night. That transitions—the ones that stick—are typically gradual.
I work with clients who are often frustrated when they can’t make a sudden and dramatic transformation in how they view and ultimately treat themselves when it comes to their health. And I understand their feelings, because my own shift toward more conscientiousness evolved over years of fits and starts, good periods followed by binges and benders. I experienced euphoric highs about progresses made and subsequent self-flogging over perceived failures. In my journal I saw myself go from merely mentioning a thought in passing to having it occupy increasingly more and more space in my head and actions. Eventually, either the thought would fade into obscurity or it would become a part of my life. I was reminded of this as I read my own account of a change of careers. The person writing the words I penned in 2008 did not know she was “foreshadowing” a significant life change; she was simply documenting the days’ events and the feelings they evoked.
Looking at my journals today was a little like glancing in the rear view mirror of my life. To borrow from the band Whitesnake, “I don’t know where I am going, but I sure know where I’ve been.”