Tag Archives: change

Neat and Tidy Little Boxes

Change comes in a lot of forms.  Sometimes it is the blinding flash of light epiphany like Saul on the road to Damascus, but I think a lot of times, it’s more of a slow build over time.  For me, the latter tends to be true much more often than the former.  It certainly was the case recently when I finally accepted for myself that powerlifting was not the draw it once was for me.

While the change was slow and over time, I can think of two more distinct moments that helped drive this path.

The first was returning to playing indoor soccer a year or two ago (before being driven off by nagging injuries).  I thought I was in fine shape – I was stronger than I had ever been, I had been working back in conditioning and I thought I was ready to roll.  Then, I hit the field and stumbled around, moving with a grace that could be described as “wooden” if we were being highly charitable about it.

The second was when I went out to EliteFTS for a training session and seminar.  I went heavier on deadlifts than I had in a long time… and in the days that followed, my training felt crushed.  My recovery was just not great and I felt beat up for the umpteenth time.

In the days that followed that, I realized that returning to my athletic roots as a focal point moving forward was what I wanted.  I thought I was always training to be a strong athlete and realized I spent a lot of time on the strong and not nearly enough on the athlete portion of that mix.  Maybe I came to this realization because I was older and wiser.  Maybe it was because my body was yelling loud and long at me “Bro…this ain’t working out like you think it is.”  Maybe age was catching up with me (although I fight this notion with every core of my being that age should ever be an acceptable excuse for not doing what you love).

Regardless of the reasoning, I knew that at 44, it was time to change course for myself and get back to what I knew would be enjoyable for me in the long term.

The funny thing about all of this is part of the reason I struggled with making this change over the last year or two was how easy it had become to be too concerned with a neat and tidy label for what I was as a lifter. I was a POWERLIFTER.  That was a distinct classification and readily identified me as part of a community of likeminded folks.  There is comfort and power in that kind of identity – we’re social creatures and community matters.

But what happens when, as the cliché states, the juice is no longer worth the squeeze?  That the enjoyment you derive from that has gone way down for what you get back from the work and sacrifice?

What if I went back to training that did not have that neat and tidy little box that had become so cozy for me?  The opportunity to provide a ready answer when people asked what kind of lifter I was? How would I answer that question?

In the days following that lifting session in Ohio, I smiled and realized exactly how I would answer that question… any damn way I really wanted.  I’m a lifter and an athlete.  No other details needed beyond that.  I lift heavy weights.  I throw things around.  I row.  I do yoga.  I play golf.  I sprint hills.  I push Prowlers.  I will, hopefully, start running again.  I may even play soccer again (if my right knee will stop being an obstinate pain in the ass and get on board with this plan).

Those boxes are tempting for everyone and often we slide into them without even realizing it’s happening – they can be lovely boxes, perhaps velvet-lined and gorgeous.  If you want to be part of that group, that’s clearly not a bad thing at all.  But when you realize it’s more convenience or comfort than conscious choice, that’s when things get interesting (and something I’ve thought about before when I wrote “Your Pathetic Little Box” a few years back).  And that’s why this Churchill quote hits home so much with me:

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I’ve chosen a new path and I must admit the details of a lifting program aren’t terribly interesting to anyone but the person writing it or training under it.  The interesting part is assessing your why and seeing if it’s what you want or just part of a sitting in your neat and tidy little box.

Because the thing about those boxes?  They are a certain shape and a certain size… and you can only grow in them just so much.

And I never want to stop growing.

Small Change. Consistent Change. Larger Results.

I remember it just sitting there and staring at me.  That pile of clutter on my kitchen counter that probably sat there for a few weeks.  It wasn’t literally staring at me or else this would be the start to one of the stranger horror stories to date, where an unsorted collection of mail, notebooks, charger cords and random nonsense achieved a sentient state and was sizing me up.  Not good times.

Anyhoo, I was definitely looking at it with a touch of frustration because I really do hate when things get all out of sorts if I have complete control over them.  Given that we’ve established that the clutter was not some kind of fairy tale monster, I definitely should have been wrangling it.

Yet, I had not.

The clutter on the counter was actually symptomatic of something larger that had been nagging away in the back of my brain – that I had let a bunch of things go for any of a number of reasons.  The reasons all seem good in the moment (I’m just too busy right now, I have a lot going on, I’m tired at the end of the day, etc.), but which total up to a neat little stack of excuses.

So why had this happened?  And why had I gotten bad at taking time to meditate?  Or to read more consistently?  Or to do more writing?  Or get to bed at a decent hour?  Or, or, or…

The answer was actually pretty simple – When I would inevitably hit that point of shouting unto the heavens “Damn it! This will ALL get fixed!” while shaking my clenched fists of fury, that’s what I would try to do.  Fix ALL of it.  At once.  Not one or two things.  Oh gosh no.  In that moment I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I was gonna get cracking on changes, my friends.  Ohhhh, the changes I would undertake.

It was only when I was recently reading the excellent book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney did the folly of my efforts become so apparent.  The question was never being an undisciplined slob or somehow being weak in my principles.  It was really that I wasn’t giving myself a chance to succeed because I wanted everything fixed at once, instead of taking a more methodical approach.  One of the interesting pieces of that book is how clearly it lays out how to build and what easily erodes willpower.

Seeking to spread your finite willpower thinly across a multitude of worthwhile improvements results in not achieving any of them.  And getting frustrated for the umpteenth time. And repeating a mind-numbing cycle… again.

How did I finally address all of this? (Notice I did not say fix, since that clearly implies it is all good from here on out and y’all know that ain’t the case).

Step One: Make The List

I made a short list of 4 things and called it my “Willpower Development List”.  Very official, I know.  It’s as follows:

  1. Straighten up my house in the moment. No waiting around.
  2. Pray/meditate daily.
  3. Read/write every day.
  4. Get to bed by 10PM.

Step Two: Assign Each Goal a Month

I picked a month for each step and to focus on getting good at that task.  So, I started with straightening up for August.  Each day I would see to be REALLY good at keeping my house super tidy.  Nice and simple.  Then in September, I added the prayer/meditation as a 2nd task of the day, after already developing the good habit of straightening up the house.  Then in October, the reading and writing.

Step Three: Automate

Because everything that needs to be done in this world can now only be accomplished with a super snappy app, I found the Streaks – Daily Habit Tracker app for my phone which would remind me every day about the tasks (there are a variety of apps like this out there for whatever phone OS y’all are rocking).  The goal would be to string together longer and longer streaks of completing everything.  I’m not always perfect, but I am WAY better.  And if I find myself not being consistent in the habits I’ve developed, I will not add something new until I have the first group down solid.

Step Four: The Bigger Lesson

All of this is a pretty simple approach, but one where I began to see momentum and ended the feeling that I was an undisciplined goober with little prospect of success in sight.

It also made me feel more keenly a larger point: that my inability to effect the changes I wanted was not a failing of personal character as much as it was the use of a flawed method.  I urge everyone to keep that in mind in their own lives.  Human beings are capable of soaring achievements that continue to take my breath away on a regular basis, but we also all bear an innate ability to personalize our shortcomings as hard-wired genetic limitations.  We’re supremely gifted as beating ourselves up for seemingly everything we do not do well.  Just remember that maybe… just maybe… that getting a perspective check may be all you need to shift the view.

And that’s better than any habit streak I know.

Remove Complication and Just Have Dinner

Mom making her dinner selection.
Mom making her dinner selection.

I’m one of those people who tends to like to mull over questions, problems and issues for a while as I try to sort them out. This is both blessing and curse in that I enjoy the thinking process, but it’s obviously pretty easy to slip into a mode of over-complication. Thinking is great, but not if all you do is think and never act – that’s the great corporate maxim of paralysis by analysis.

Perhaps the greatest issue of overthinking problems is you get brutally self-involved, something I view as a borderline high crime for myself because it’s inherently selfish. I’m a firm believer that we were meant to live our lives interacting with our fellow man… and that we should do our best to make that successful.

I think that’s why during a particularly stressful run of late, I did something to remove complication and do something so incredibly simple:

Stopped what I was doing and had dinner with my Mom.

And suddenly, life got a lot more simple. I chatted with her earlier in the day, she talked about how Dad was going to be at a golf event having dinner and then a few hours later it hit me… why don’t I just take her out to dinner?

While I am tempted to go into some kind of deep review of our dinner, what we talked about, how good the food was (it was awesome, quite frankly) and such, I’m not going to do so. Because that’s not the point and would cause me to slip back into the overanalysis world anyway.

Instead, I urge anyone who feels in the midst of their own drama (whether external or self-created) to stop what you’re doing, find someone you care about and just share a meal where you try to listen more than talk (I was only semi-successful in this regard, but I tried hard). That’s it. No fancy self-reflection. No working through a success matrix from your favorite improvement web site. No matter how busy you are. Stop. Get out of your own way. Focus on someone else.

Remove complication and just have dinner.

Sometimes it’s just not that hard.

Lessons From the Laundry Pile

Where the wash and dry magic unfolds.
Where the wash and dry magic unfolds.

Laundry. It’s really nothing more than the simple act of cleaning your clothes so you have something sparkling and fresh to wear out into society as opposed to looking like an utter goon. Seems simple enough, right?

Well, I never have a problem doing laundry. Heck, most times I am down lifting in my gym, I will snag some clothes out of the hamper and get it cracking while I’m pushing some iron. Two birds. One stone. All win.

Putting the clean clothes away once said laundry was done? Well… suffice it to say I’m not going to be winning any sort of awards, medals or commendations for bravery on that particular point. For reasons I cannot fully fathom, I had a very long run of perfectly clean laundry piling up in front of those gleaming white machines pictured above. I would tell you how long, but I’m going to save myself the embarrassment. Just know it was baaaaad. Real bad.

Well, over my recent holiday break from work, I was taking a nice chunk of time to think over things in my life.  It’s really become one of my favorite things to do during the Christmas to New Year’s timeframe as one year closes and a new one begins to shine on the horizon.  This matter of my laundry jumped to mind during this period of reflection… and not just in a “Damn… that’s a mess in need of cleaning” kind of way.  Instead, I saw it as a bit of a symptom of something that had been nagging at me for a while, but I had not been able to put my finger on.  And it was so obvious once it occurred to me.  What was this realization, you ask in breathless anticipation?  I will tell you:

That I simply got lazy and sloppy in the name of being more laid back.  And I hated it.  All of it.

I'm with you big guy. That's how I felt about those habits too...
I’m with you big guy. That’s how I felt about those habits too…

See, I kept telling myself for so long that I needed to be less tightly-wound and more mellow.  I have a tendency to be way-to-keyed-up for my own good and was in serious need of a chill adjustment.  However, there’s a great deal of difference between being more relaxed and just letting everything get messy by being passive.

But it wasn’t just about the pile of laundry that needed to be folded and put away.  Hell, my realization was barely about that.  What I realized is how easy it had become for me to stop doing little things because I convinced myself it was a sign of being anal or would lead to me being stressed out over minutiae.  The problem with this approach is: (a) I didn’t feel any more relaxed and (b) I feel so much more on top of my life when I am taking care of the little things.  Not obsessing over them.  Not stressing over them.  Just knocking those suckers out.

Because you know what happens when you start knocking out the little needed things?  You start to build momentum on much bigger things.  At least I do.  So that’s what I started to do during my break.  Clean up everything.  Put everything in its place.  Never leave crap out for no apparent reason.

It all sounds completely silly doesn’t it?  Hell, I feel a little silly just typing it for the whole world to read.  However, that mindset of taking care of business really began to snowball and I was looking for more ways to keep that productive momentum going.  And this played in beautifully to one of my biggest goals for 2014: Being more proactive in all areas of my life.  Less letting things happen and more making things happen.

And I owe it all to a neglected pile of laundry.  Life gives lessons in the strangest places.  This time it was from a mound of clean clothes and little steps of momentum that came from taking care of them.

Never saw that one coming…

Welcome to the Echo Chamber

The seemingly unending amount of political nonsense currently occurring in the U. S. of A. this election cycle is just… punishing.  I can really think of no other word to describe it better than that.  I suppose this isn’t terribly different from any other major election year, but it just feels like all of us are being forced to repay some horrible debt or penance by watching all of this unfold.  I don’t think I did anything to deserve it… sooooo… yeah, I’m blaming you.  Had to be done – please just accept your responsibility, apologize and let’s move on together into a bright new future, mmkay?  Sweet.

A great term of this political season… and truly of any moment within which soap-boxing and pontificating are taking center stage… is “the echo chamber”.  While our friends at Merriam-Webster take the more traditional definition of echo chamber as “a room with sound-reflecting walls used for producing hollow or echoing sound effects”, I am using it in a slightly more recent sense.  In this case, an echo chamber would be where people preach their views only to the like-minded who, in turn, repeat it to others of the same mind, thus amplifying to the view to the point it seems like a God-given truth.  In reality, it’s just an echo amongst the willing and truly nothing more.

That’s the challenge of the day for all of us, I think.  Elections are actually proving to be a really helpful reminder of how we can each avoid our own personal echo chambers.  I mean, come on… we all have them.  I know I do.  “What’s that? Someone made fun of weightlifters?!?!?  I’m totally going to stomp over here, call upon all the people who think exactly like me so we can smugly hang back and mock everyone who does [INSERT DIFFERENT EXERCISE METHODOLOGY HERE].”  Why do I do this?  Well frankly, because I want to feel right and dammit, I want to be with other people who feel that way too because we are all just SO DAMN RIGHT!  Look at us!  All in agreement and whatnot!  It must be true… I mean, hell… look at ALL OF US agreeing!  Oh who cares if we are but 3 out of 7 billion.

Let’s join together, brothers and sisters of this noble fight, and make something useful out of every ugly, pandering political ad tossed out way.  Each one can remind us a little more of our own warm, snug cocoons of agreement.  Let’s get uncomfortable every once in a while, people.

If You Think It, It Will Come

Careful planning. Fierce execution. Totally sweet lighting.

Let’s chat for a minute about improving yourself.  Sure, that’s most of the theme of this blog in general, but let’s talk about it in a seemingly unique and obvious concept.  Yes, unique does not often go with obvious, but damn it, tonight it will.

Suppose for a moment you wanted to improve your health, fitness, well-being or some other part of your physical being.  Would you just sort of amble about through the day and hope that after a while, you were better off than when you started?  Wait… you wouldn’t?  Come on… seriously?

Seems pretty straightforward.  You don’t tend to get better by accident.  There is effort, focus, determination, planning and execution of that planning.  It’s not even that complicated – it just takes actually putting into motion a half-decent plan.  Not even a great plan necessarily – just something semi-good that you give strong effort to.

Everything you’ve read up to this point is the obvious part.  Here is what is a little unique: Why is it so damn few people, including me, take that same approach when it comes to their “inner” development?  It’s as if the path to being a better person lies in just saying one day, “Hey, I want to be get better…” at some positive personal quality (listener/thinker/more caring/more resilient/better empathy/stand up for themselves) and one day, BOOM!  There it is!  Glory, glory hallelujah!  Sing unto the heavens for I have raised myself up to new heights!  Can I get an amen?  AYYYYYYY-MEN!

I am a bit taken aback by the extent to which I swing and miss on this very point.  My approach to physical training is focused, planned and borderline obsessive (I prefer meticulous, but then again, I am powerful sweet and don’t see this as a bad thing).  I know I need to do certain lifts to get stronger in particular areas and I need to work conditioning to stay in shape.  I know if I just blow them off, nothing happens… well, nothing good at least.  But what about wanting to be less distracted and more thoughtful/focused?  Don’t I need to have a plan for that?  Don’t I need to spend actual time on getting better at that?

It’s as I act like these things will just be taken care of because, hell, my mind is going all day long so… umm… it must be working on something.  Maybe it’s working on my being more thoughtful too!  WOO!

Horrible, horrible plan.  And especially galling considering how perfectly clear it is to me that a lot of work goes into my physical development.  It’s borderline silly I don’t have time set aside to think about my personal development.

Until now.  Finally got that booked into my calendar on a daily basis and what now becomes important is this: Will I do it?  Will I guard that time and treat it with the same level of care I do my training?  If I do, good things will come.  If I don’t… well… then I will just be back to knowing that a very good intention married to a non-existant plan is a sure bet for a looking utterly dopey.

And this blog is not about sheepishly sitting idle.  It’s relentlessly pushing myself forward.  May I not just write it, but live it.

 

Present Pain. Future Payoff.

A little slice of personal joy

A funny thing happened on the way to my soccer game this past Sunday.  Not like literally during the drive over, but in the time leading up to the game and it all happened without me specifically noticing it.

As I mentioned a little bit in my post yesterday on potential, my experience at Tough Mudder really opened my eyes a bit to what I can and cannot do.  Going through such an unbelievably challenging event like that (probably the hardest physical thing I have ever done) made me reflective in the weeks that followed.  If you asked “How so, you charming devil?”, well… then (1) thank you for the compliment you kind and observant soul; and (2) let me tell you.

Between work busy-ness and life busy-ness and all the lifting and physical training I do anyway, I’ve sometimes been concerned about overdoing it.  As Saint Mom Kuzia has always said about me, I tend to be either all-in or all-out.  I’m not terribly good at finding that smooth, even-keeled middle that some other people tend to have as they navigate the waves of life.  I’ve gotten a little better in this regard, but certainly not great.  So I have had times where I felt rundown or tired or unmotivated as I pushed through my training sessions.  I would chalk this up to life catching up with me and just being way, way, waaaaay too overstretched.

After Tough Mudder, I suddenly wasn’t so sure.  I certainly have more stress than I would care for, but was that really what was limiting me?  Or, as I wrote yesterday, had I created an artificial boundary around my own potential?  I decided to say “Screw it” and see if I couldn’t get a little more juice going for myself by pushing a little harder in each training session I had.

Lo and behold!  I play soccer this past Sunday, switch to more of a midfield position versus my typical backfield defender position… I need to run a ton more… and probably played the best game I have had in YEARS.  I am no by NO MEANS some kind of talented soccer wiz – quite the contrary.  I picked up the game seriously 10 years ago at 29 and have loved it ever since, but I will never be the guy to dazzle you with my deft footwork and majestic shots on goal.  I’m a worker.  A scrapper.  A hustler… and boy did I hustle this past week and had a ton of fun doing it.

None of this would have happened if I didn’t get myself out of that preconceived notion of my own boundaries.  That’s the beauty of finding moments to really get out of your own comfort zone – the time in that awkward experience is likely terribly unpleasant, but in many ways, you aren’t doing it for that moment, but for ones that follow.

Present pain.  Future payoff.  An excellent personal transaction.

The Outer Limits of Comfort and the Value of Dissonance

Thinking, Thinking, Thinking...
Thinking, Thinking, Thinking...

Are you ready for a small slice of truth to close out your Thursday evening?  Good.  Me too.

It’s hard to have original ideas when you are surrounded by people who all have the same experiences as you.
Jonathan Harris

And there we have it.  If you are anything like me, you want to be creative and let your mind freely expand to take on new thoughts, ideas and concepts.  Heck, one of my favorite things to do is to find a connection between two seemingly disparate notions.  It can be like a game or puzzle to carefully thread ideas together, to see potential connections which are not readily apparent.  It’s actually quite fun.  I mean, maybe not quite as fun as full-contact mah jongg, but that would also be setting the bar pretty damn high.

But what happens when you seek to expand your thinking when surrounded by people who look like, talk like, sound like and live exactly as you do?  Maybe it’s who you work with every day.  Think about how your department or company probably handles recruiting new members – cultural fit is always a big thing.  Heck, I am HUGE believer that cultural fit may matter more than specific skill sets in many ways.  If someone just doesn’t “get it”, they can possess the intellect of Newton, Spinoza or Descartes and it’s going to be an utter clusterf… umm… it’s going to be super bad.  Yeah, let’s just go with super bad and move right along.

Except how do you come up with something new if everyone is the same?  What causes the deviation from the norm?  The bolt out of the blue?  The zig when everyone zags?  Unless the culture is to seek out the differences (an all-too-rare cultural trait for many groups, I find), there is nothing to inspire the new to be born.  And why would there be?  The group was brought together because of “like-ness” and similarity, not uniqueness and dissonance.

Just a little something for all of us to remember: comfort can be a wonderful thing.  It can bring a greater sense of shared understanding and it’s just a pleasant experience… but ahh… when you need something new, fresh and different?  Comfort does us a disservice.  We match, but we are stale.  We get each other, but don’t stretch each other.

Comfort is not a bad thing and can cause a great deal of harmony.  But when we seek to boldly break into new ground without a map to guide us?  Take on the iconoclast, bear out the awkwardness and let new thoughts come forth.

 

Dissatisfaction and The Value of Your Life

I’ve never seen the movie “Network“, but I’ve seen the pivotal scene from the film more than a few times and I was drawn to finding it today on YouTube.  If you’ve never seen it, here it is:

But what was it that brought me to this?

This is seemingly the 3rd post that jumps to mind for me that deals with some kind of rage (see “Choking On Our Own Rage”) or being pissed off (see “Non-Stop, Full Tilt, Every Day Mayhem” with Ray Lewis’s speech on being “pissed off for greatness”) or today about being mad as hell.  Am I just some kind of bitter angry person?  One of those cranky old curmudgeons who shakes his fist on his front porch at the kids to gell off of his lawn?  The guy who finds nothing to be happy about, but more than a little to complain about?  Thankfully, no… I am none of these things… although who doesn’t enjoy a good moment of declaring how things were so much tougher/better when they were growing up and how kids have it SO easy these days?  It’s damn therapeutic, I tell ya.

Shake it up!
Determined to shake myself out of lethargy

However, the video came to mind for me as I thought about the power of never feeling too satisfied with the state of things.  We all get incredibly busy with work, family, friends and rushing around at a hectic pace.  I may be just imagining it and maybe its just my own life, but everything feels to be at an accelerated pace over the last year or so.  More to do and less time to do it.  Doing this for a few days or weeks is manageable, but over longer periods of time, it’s easy to forget about everything going on around you… because you haven’t really stopped to take a look.

And that’s why… every once in a while… we each need to feel truly dissatisfied and maybe get mad as hell.  Not angry in the sense of being pissed off at your fellow man or mindlessly shouting to the heavens for some kind of ephemeral justice.  No, it needs to be that dissatisfaction with our own lots, lives or situations where we get pissed and think, “No more senseless autopilot… there’s got to be something better out there…”  Or in the words of on-the-edge news anchor Howard Beale in the video above, you need to say “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”

Because when you get to that point of being dissatisfied, you suddenly improve the opportunity for a change to really occur.  Really and truly to happen.  The alternative is to just feel that nothing will ever improve and whatever you are experiencing at this moment is just as good as it’s going to get.  Is that what you want?  I don’t want that for me and I certainly don’t want that for you.

So the next time you feel that gnawing sense in your gut that you should be able to have something better… there should be more than what is immediately in front of you… don’t stifle it out as a kneejerk reaction and don’t feed it as anger for the sake of anger.  Both are senseless and can be destructive (or in Stars Wars, lead to the path of the dark side).  Instead, let’s make it that extra push to shake us from our complacency and get a little more for ourselves, our families, our friends and anyone else we care about.

The present may be tough, but since the only constant in life is change… why not make that work for us?  We’re human beings.  Our lives have value. And settling belittles all of us a little bit at a time.

An Old Guy Yelling at Snot-Nosed Punks… Or How I Realized I Need to Adapt

CameraZOOM-20120311120422464I was able to get myself over to Mass today.  I mean, I really have zero excuse for not doing so, especially during the easy, lulling pace of vacation.  Now I don’t normally blog about things specific to my religious beliefs – my faith is something intensely personal to me, so I am not one to chit-chat all that much on it.  Also, religion is just one of those obvious topics that invite a lot of divisive debate and that’s just not my bag, baby.

However, I had a moment during Mass at St. George Catholic Church in beeyooootiful St. George, Utah that I wanted to share because I find it incredibly instructive on the effects of change upon how the human mind works (or at least my mind).

The Catholic Church has made some recent changes to certain portions of the Mass, specifically the language of both responses from the congregation during the service and some of the words of the Nicene Creed.  I’m not 100% sure on all of the rhyme and reason behind the changes, but they’ve certainly been noticeable to me as I stumble through parts of Mass that have been akin to muscle-memory to me over the years.

But here’s where I came to a couple of notable of insights on myself that have more to do with how I am wired and less to do with the particulars of the Catholic Mass:

1) I might be a lot more resistant to change than I sometimes realize… even in those areas where change can actually be somewhat refreshing.

Seriously.  When I first came upon these changes to the very familiar portions of the service, the only feeling that came to mind was pure annoyance.  “Wait… what the… they’re changing the words?!?!?  Why the heck are they doing that?  I mean… seriously… what was wrong with the ones they had before???  This is just ridiculous…”  I was a little dumbfounded by the whole thing – Were the old words wrong somehow?  What’s the benefit of the new words?

Then out of no where… it’s like I was able to step back from myself and see my reaction with a little bit of distance.  At that moment, I realized I sounded like the crotchety old coot who yells at teenagers for their rock-n-roll and fast cars and crazy parties.  It was fairly ridiculous.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not say that observation completely changed me in an instant, but hoo boy… talk about an ugly slice of self-realization.  I love to say how I’m close to 40, but think of myself as younger than that.  Maybe there are parts of me that are aging faster and more curmudgeonly than I like.

But this also allowed me to see a positive, which brings us to observation #2 my friends…

2) Forced change can be good if it breaks you from mindless rote.

As someone who has been going to Mass for his entire life, a lot of the prayers and responses are things I can pop out without much effort.  It’s as if a part of my brain responsible for these nuggets of knowledge engage at the proper times and just… well… go.  The words flow without much effort and I can actually thing about something completely different as each word is uttered and not miss a single beat.

And that’s a problem.

The new text forced me to stop, read what was being said and actually pay some damn attention to it (shock of shocks!).  Who knows how long I would have likely been in that auto-pilot mode for?  I do have a lot of moments of quiet reflection during the course of my church attendance, but it’s a little disappointing to think I would say words without at least giving some thought to them occasionally.

You win again, change.  Well-played my most-worthy adversary.  Until we meet again, as we inevitably will.  May I humbly accept the lesson and embrace you a little more in the future.  You are like my mental broccoli – good for me, but takes a little while to fully accept as both healthy and delicious.

Yeah… mental broccoli.  I like it.