When I was in graduate school, I took a seminar in Early Modern French history (hey-- I was fascinated by the subject, but then again, I'm a wonk of the first order). I wrote a critical analysis on Voltaire's use of the words "public" and "public opinion" in both his writings on politics and those regarding theatre (again-- I am a wonk...). What I found was that, in all matters pertaining to theater and culture, Voltaire was a true proletariat, encouraging The Public to weigh in on matters small and large, as was their God-given right.
He cautioned a very different tale when talking about the political arena. Here, The Public were just this side of cretinous boob: small-minded, uninformed, knuckle-dragging inferiors, who should leave governing and politics and law to their betters, who'd had the very good sense to be born into the noble classes.
Same man. Same word. Couldn't be a more different approach, result, outlook if he'd tried (and trust me, he didn't) (he was really okay with inconsistency).
Call me the Voltaire of change.
I am all for social change. World shattering, life altering stuff-- housing is a right, not a privilege. So is food, and access to medical care, living in a safe place, drinking safe water. I left graduate school to work for ACORN back in the eighties, long before it was made into a dirty word by the Tea Baggers. We fought for change. Lived it, organized for it. We took a page from Saul Alinsky and made it into a thing of real and awesome beauty.
When I worked for United Way and helped run corporate giving campaigns, I moved people to action, urging them to give, to get involved, to change the world. And I let them all know that every time they did something, they were, in fact, changing the world.
I'm all for changing the world. It needs to be changed.
I'm all for changing you. Not in that icky, co-dependent way of changing you to fit my expectations, but, you know, it's probably not a bad idea for you to, you know, take a look at yourself and do some minor repair work.
It's the changing me piece that I have issues with.
Believe me-- it's not that I think I'm perfect. I so know that I am not. I know all the cute little slogans: if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten. If nothing changes, nothing changes. You know what they call someone who does the same thing again and again expecting different results? I'm sure there are more, but I'm typing quickly (it is amazing how fast 24 hours can go by when you've committed to blogging something new every day). You get the picture.
Change is hard.
Change is hard, for me, when I look at it as something I have to do. It is exhausting and daunting and overwhelming and so frikking difficult. And who knows what will happen on the other side? Who knows how the world will look or who I'll be or how I will fit? It's not hard. It's a scary impossibility.
But (there's always a "but"). But I don't need to look at it like that. I don't have to change. How about: I get to change. I am allowed to change, being given the opportunity to do something differently. I don't have to do the same things again and again, and then spend the next slice of eternity kicking myself (or worse) because nothing happened. Nothing was different. Wherever I go, there I am.
I remember what it was like, who I was. I remember the breathless agony of my life, living in a tiny universe of one, where nothing changed, ever. Where I was lost and alone and broken. All the time, world without end, amen. I remember, when nothing changed and the world stood still, that despair was my stock in trade and hope was a dirty, dangerous secret. I remember when my only prayer was (a much more earthy version of) "Screw you, God!"
I may or may not have had to change. What I will never forget is that I get to change. Every day. Every day, I have the ability to do something different. To shift my perspective and bend the light and move. Breathe. Change. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's all good. I will get the chance to do something different, to practice change tomorrow.