Change Or Be Changed!
Have you ever been jostling around with a friend or something and they accidently bop you right in the nose? Like maybe an elbow that they didn’t realize was coming in a little higher than it should be or their hand slips and crashes into your nose bridge. Your eyes water profusely, and the pain is deep and sudden and unexpected and anger-inducing. This has only happened to me a few times in my life, but when it happens I realize the power of my own anger and I understand the necessity of murder laws. Sorry to go all dark on you there, I just really fucking hate getting hit in the nose.
When unexpected changes come up in my life I feel a bit like I’ve just been bopped in the nose. I get mad, and frustrated and I often wonder why I even make plans in the first place. When I was younger I was reluctant to try a lot of new things, instead I decided to let life happen and If I needed to change I would. Some changes are easy to take, like new technologies that make things easier or new friends that you seem to gel with or whatever, while other changes can be a little tougher to accept. I can recall pondering my college alternatives with my dad at one point.
“Dad, I love your idea of having me go to college but I’ve been thinking about this and if I go to college I’ll work really hard for 4 years, drink a lot of beer and eat a lot of ramen and graduate fat and in debt like $30,000, so let me lay a different idea on you, just hear me out. Lets say I rob a bank and make off with $30,000…Dad, keep listening, it gets better! Then I hide the money! Even if I get caught, I only do 4 years in the joint tops! I hang out in prison for 4 years, you know, get some tattoos, lift some weights, and by the time I’m done I’m only 22 years old, I’m 30 G’s ahead and it only cost me 4 years of my life.” Dad, of course, wasn’t too impressed with this plan and as you can imagine, I ended up with a big ‘fat’ expensive college degree.
But that wasn’t the end, because the pressure life puts on us to change never really ends.
“You mean I have to spend 40 hours or more at a job for the rest of my life now?”
“Wife, I love you and everything, but you want to have some kids now? You know they poop their pants, like, everyday right?”
“So…going to college the first time wasn’t enough, now I need to go get more college? Run up more debt? Who the fuck invented this system!?!?”
Whenever I start kicking around the concepts of choices and change in my head I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to own a time machine. It’s interesting how the appeal of time machines has changed for me over the years. When I was a kid the idea of going into the future was all I could think about, but now I just want to go back and fix all the stupid shit I did. Honestly I think I could get it done in one trip if I caught myself around age 14, here’s some highlights of some things I might say:
“Do all your math and science homework...trust me!”
“You know how your dad is always worried there’s going to be another draft like Vietnam? Well that won’t be a problem for you, not because there won’t be another stupid-ass war…that does happen…but it won’t be a problem for two reasons: The first is that there won’t be a draft, but the second is because you’re gonna get drunk and dislocate you’re knee on a trampoline when you’re 19 causing permanent nerve damage to your foot…wait a minute, I can just tell you not to do that, DON’T DO THAT!”
“In a few years you’re gonna get this stupid idea about skipping college and robbing a bank. Just go with it, it’s the best Idea you’ll ever have! I gotta warn you though, now that I’m a little older I’ve heard a few things about prison showers but I’m sure it’s just a myth.”
I’ve discovered through lots of trial and error that if you don’t evolve and change on your own, life has a way of making changes for you. There are changes in my past that I HATED going through! Jobs, school, relationships, mental struggles, many things that as they were happening I could only think about my own suffering and how I regretted whatever decisions led me to that point. But it’s funny, now that time has passed and I’ve completely left all those challenges behind I’ve realized two big things. The first is that as terrible as an experience may have been, it will come to an end at some point. You will move on and things will be o.k. It doesn’t seem like it in the moment, in fact, it feels like your life has taken some miserable turn and this is just what it will be from now on, but that’s never the case and things always seem to get figured out. The second thing is that you always learn something after the fact and hopefully it helps you to make better decisions going forward. And maybe that’s as close to a time machine as we’re ever going to get, remembering what we went through and using that to make good decisions.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, there’s one more thing I need to tell myself when I go back in time:
“…you know that idiotic, eccentric, millionaire that’s on talk shows sometimes, he has a fake tan and ridiculous hair?...Trump? Since we’re on the topic of rough changes, maybe you should sit down for this, 2016 is a bit of a rough year.”