Big Sky, Big Change?
It is raining in Ketchikan. Foggy and I am worried about our flight. Worried that perhaps we won’t make it out this morning. But it is Alaska and they are quite familiar with fog.
Seems weird that I am leaving a place where I cannot see the sky, moving toward the state known for the openness and largeness of the sky. I could really use that right now.
I am tired. I didn’t sleep well. I was too hot, then too cold, then uncomfortable. Then worried. Then up and down. It was a restless night.
I am thinking today that there is a large difference between change and accommodation. Do we really change? Or do we just accommodate life’s changing circumstances? Altering ourselves temporarily to temporal conditions that seems to grind us down. Where I am today is that only death changes us. Death takes from life that which we all take for granted, the delusion that there is time for something else.
I only stopped my self destructive drinking because I became convinced that I would die if I continued. I didn’t stop to live a better life, I stopped because I didn’t want to die. I still do a whole bunch of shit that is not good for me: chocolate, fail to exercise regularly, Diet Coke, poor diet far too often. So did I really change or did I just accommodate?
On the drinking front, I changed. I moved myself into painful places and did the work. I worked with my own raw material so that I could live free from alcohol’s death grip. That I changed. And continue to change every day of my life. But the rest of it I have accommodated. I stop eating crap when I can’t stand the way I look, and then as soon as I see improvement, I go back to the way things were. It isn’t what I want, but it is familiar and comforting, these habits of mine. They provide something that change cannot...the idea that perhaps this time I might be able to moderate. This time things will be different...
And that is inherent in accommodation, we alter ourselves to fit into another’s mold, always with the idea that soon we will return to who we were, no worse for the wear. We make adjustments to ourselves to make ourselves more palatable to others, to get the job, to gain the love, to move forward in some manner. But we do not change. Though outwardly we may appear changed, inside, we have every intention to return to those things that maimed us before. Because change is hard and fucking exhausting and so we take the little life that seems easier, we do the things that we know will hurt us in the end because we all want short term gain, and the long term pain, well, it is long term and not happening now.
I see this with my son. I want to believe that he is changed. And he is on some level. But I realized yesterday as he downed one sugar soaked item after another, one sugary, caffeine laced drink after another that he had not really changed. He had accommodated. He had no desire to do this differently. He made adjustments, all in an effort to return to the way things were before. So seductive that this time it might be different. But I can see the train wreck...
Something happens when you begin to accept short term pain for long term gain in your life. You see the folly of the other route. You see your own fuckedupness. You see the fallacy of your own judgment and opinion, mostly about yourself. This is not something one can give to another. It is something that comes to each of us, if we are lucky, as we grow up and older. I cannot give my son a changed perspective, he is going to have to learn this like the rest of us.
I saw us all repeating an old familiar habit. He taking advantage because he knows that his father and I do not want a fight, do not want an issue, want only to enjoy each other’s company...and so he escalates to see how far he can go. So far, it has all gone well. But the train wreck is coming, of that I am sure.
Today, his father goes home and he and I begin our trek to Montana. I am going to do things differently today. I am going to tow the line on the sugar and caffeine. I do not care if he blows it up. Perhaps it needs to be, perhaps we both need to see that the actual manifestation accommodation brings.
Change is hard. I get that. For all of us. But I also know and see the difference between accommodation and actual, down in the dirt, gut wrenching pain of change. I know it, I have lived it and I have lived without it. I have to be the change I want to see...and that is hard and seems like a lot to ask of me when I am so tired and feel a little lost. The wilderness so massive and all consuming, me just a visitor here...
I am hoping that the vast expanse of sky can show us both how to change, instead of accommodate. I hope that I can have the courage enough to change myself and lead him by example. I am going to do my best. I know what it is to live in a house built on sand, subject to the erosive rain of my own great ideas. I have lived that life. So I can appreciate his believing that he knows things too. I need a big idea here, I need a new direction and plan. I want to be different, if only to be different for him.
I pray that today as we drive into the large, openness of Montana, that I can embrace all that space and welcome it in. Have it help me move it into my heart and mind, so that I can begin to change. Leaving accommodation at Idaho’s border. I can welcome the new thing we will begin tomorrow and be willing to see my own part in the ongoing dysfunction. I can only change myself, but I can make anyone accommodate. All I have to do is be willing to throw a fit, draw a line, refuse to submit. I must remember today that I taught him all of that. So I must also be the one who teaches him the difference between the open sky of change and the tiny enclosure of accommodation. Fuck, parenting is hard. Pray for us, please.