When I made the decision to change the file in my brain, I had no idea how many angry soldiers have been guarding that file for so long.
You wouldn’t believe the barrage of negative comments I received after I wrote my post about the trampoline. No, not comments from any of you, but from my own brain. It sounded something like this:
“Who do you think you are? Don’t you think you are being a little insensitive to people who have been suffering for years and years? You want to use some stupid trampoline story to tell people that change happens?”
I immediately responded defensively. “The trampoline was a word picture! I wasn’t trying to minimize deep suffering.”
The angry guards hovered closely around the file and scowled angrily at me. The look was one of disdain but also taunting as in “We dare you to try to take this from us.”
I took a deep breath and thought how easy it would be to just quit. To say, “You know, maybe people don’t change, and I should just leave this alone. I can still write about hope and then I won’t have to be uncomfortable like I am right now.”
I shrugged my shoulders and turned to walk away. The guards snarled and laughed, high fiving each other as they watched me retreat. I then heard a high pitched baby voice coming from their direction. “Poor baby’s gonna give up after only two posts. It’s just toooo hardddd. Wimpy wimp wimp.”
My jaw tightened and my fists clenched. I blew out a breath and shouted, “Shut up!” only to hear them laugh again. I knew they were right and didn’t really have the energy to deal with myself at the moment. I quickly ran to do something so I wouldn’t have to hear myself think. I would regroup later.
Later turned out to be quite awhile later. It was easy to immerse myself in chores and work and books and my Facebook feed. There were plenty of links to click on Twitter and some really great YouTube videos that took up plenty of time. Until I woke in the middle of the night and found my thoughts racing, causing me to toss and turn and long for the morning.
Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Learning to Walk in the Dark, writes this about the middle of the night:
By day, I am a servant of the urgent. Nothing important has a chance with me. I am too consumed with the things that must be done to consider whether or not doing them even matters. But in the middle of the night I do not have so much to do…. A bed, in short, is where you face your nearness to or farness from God. [It] is where you come face-to-face with what really matters because it is too dark for most of your usual, shallowing distractions to work.
I decided to confront those guards and tiptoed to their post, thinking that the element of surprise might help. As I inched closer to the file area, I couldn’t believe what I saw. There sat the guards on beach chairs, wearing sun glasses, sipping fancy drinks with little umbrellas, resting after what looked like a game of beach volleyball. And then it hit me.
They are so comfortable in my brain. They have no plans to leave because I have created a vacation spot for them. They hardly have to guard their post because I rarely fight them. It is an easy job that doesn’t require much attention.
Having that file in my brain has become a way of life for me. Strangely, I seem to be in cahoots with the guards because what would I do if I had to start thinking differently?
Maybe one reason people don’t change is because our patterns, regardless of how unhealthy they are, somehow bring us comfort and security. They offer us a sense of control because the patterns are familiar and safe. It is also much easier for me to blame the guards than to really take the steps I need to take in order to change.
I am tired of living that way.
I ran and kicked over a fancy drink and screamed at the lounging guards. Stunned, they scrambled to gather their things and tried to reclaim their post. For the first time ever, I made eye contact with them and was surprised at how quickly they shifted their gaze. I thought I recognized fear in their eyes and could see that they didn’t know what they would do if they actually lost their job. They didn’t look as powerful standing there all awkward and uncomfortable.
I walked over and grabbed the file. The guards looked at each other, but made no attempt to stop me. I told them they needed to pack up their stuff and leave.
I clutched the file, went to my desk, and opened it.
It was time to see why I filed these stories in the first place.
**Hanging out with a guard in 1995 🙂