In a few short weeks, the needle of hope will turn to its annual high, the world collectively ushering in a new year, and with it – hopefully – new dreams that turn to reality.
At the same time, aside from a few dissenters (aren’t there always?), there will also be those that move nonchalantly through the days, unimpressed by the turning of the clocks.
They know that the clocks have been turning forever and one grand celebration isn’t going to change things one way or the other. You can do that, they say, any old time, any old day, no confetti required.
And while they might make terrible dates and incorrigible party poopers, they are absolutely right.
It’s like reading that best-selling book with all the secrets to success, one that will finally solve that problem you’ve been struggling with and release you from dull but constant ache inside.
Can one book really change your life?
Not even on a brand new day of a brand new year. (I guess we know who’s the party pooper here.)
Books, the kind that promise to change everything (or anything), even the very best ones, are drops in a bucket that doesn’t tip till it’s full.
The best intellectual argument is nowhere near as powerful as an emotional one. And we humans, no matter how sophisticated, educated and refined (I say, that opera was perfectly divine), run on an emotional engine that’s much bigger than the rational one.
The rational engine is necessary, of course, because bills, life and coffee first thing in the morning.
(That last one is rational and emotional combined, which is the best case scenario.)
But our emotional engine works in quirky, unpredictable ways.
Yes, the reigns of rationality keep us civil and all, but they don’t shut that engine down. And since we humans are flawed and come with inherent limitations, there’s no utopia with our emotions in neat little bags, bows on top. At best, we can acknowledge, process, express and deal with them in as healthy a manner as possible, and even that gets ridiculously messy.
Change – specifically, personal change – requires both those engines to cooperate. As much as intellectual books solve problems, complete with lists, workbooks and spiffy pie charts, they don’t work without our emotional engine warmed up and ready to go.
Now that’s a tall task for one book.
And it’s an equally tall task to change our mind or act merely because a book said so, no matter how right it is for us. We can’t will ourselves to change. At least, not for long.
We can, however, increase the odds in our favor.
We read not one book, but a hundred, with different outlooks and angles and words.
We learn from ignoring and discarding what others say (but don’t do).
We fail, we try again, we fail again, we try yet again.
The trick (which is not really a trick) is to not stop after the first try, to try a different day, in different ways, till it moves past logic and rationale, past push into pull.
When that happens, you don’t have to hope for change, you can actually feel the needle moving.
You can do that, as the wise ones say, any old time, any old day.
Confetti, however, is optional.
(Photo: Lalena Jaramillo)