How We Look at Change

Hello.

Almost a year has passed since we’ve seen each other. And to make my post interesting to you, I have made it interactive. You will have the opportunity to participate. Can I have a thumbs-up?

(Now you give me a thumbs-up.)

(That’s how this works. Nice job.)

Even though Linus has been quiet in the blogosphere, a lot of change has been occurring outside of the closed laptop. How we each look at change is amazing. Both the change around us and the change inside ourselves. (Nod.)

On the night of our recent presidential election, I was watching the news coverage in a bar with friends. Each television had a different news channel: CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. We scanned our eyes across the screens as we drank our beer and ate our cheap pizza, talking about the drastic changes that would happen if HE won, or the even more drastic changes if, God forbid, HE won. In those few hours, I realized that I had never actually created a mental image of my life in the next few years. Would I be a victim of losing my healthcare? What job would I have? Where would I even live? Would either of these men on TV actually send any ripples my way? Not metaphorical ripples that I would see from afar, but ripples that I would physically feel. (Look ponderous.)

Change takes many forms. Sometimes the world doesn't change when we need it to, and that's when fires are lit. Taken from my trip to Valparaíso, Chile, 2011.

Students protesting high tuition costs. The world may not change when we want it to. Valparaíso, Chile, 2011.

Blanket statement: In recent months I have seen a lot of change. (Applaud.)

Examples:

  1. I moved out of my home city, Minneapolis.
  2. I slept on the couches of generous strangers.
  3. I lived in Spain and experienced life as a teacher.
  4. I came back and experienced life as a teacher in the States.
  5. I graduated from college.

This is when I started to reflect. Because, as you already know, we never know that something has changed until we reach into the past bag, pull out its contents, and lay them on the table: the present. My reflection told me that I was not feeling anything different. I actually desired to feel the same. Why? (Shrug. Because you don’t know.)

When I realized that the world kept spinning without me, I panicked and pushed against its rotation.

Plaque reads, "In memory of gays, lesbians, and transsexuals, who have been persecuted and repressed throughout history." When the world doesn't see the change the way its people do. Barcelona, Spain, 2012.

“In memory of gays, lesbians, and transsexuals that have been persecuted and repressed throughout history.” When the world doesn’t see the change the way its people do. Barcelona, Spain, 2012.

Note to self: pushing against the Earth’s rotation is actually impossible. (Shake head.)

Perhaps life outside of college is ferociously fast, something like a train. And leaving college was like jumping on. You don’t jump on a train by just jumping. You jump on after you’ve run a little first. Another impossible thing.

What’s funny is that I had been encouraging students to accept change and not be afraid of vulnerability. They even wrote songs about it. Be the change you want to see in the world! they belted, quoting Gandhi, standing as a choir with myself on the piano. With their passionate and pining voices, they praised peace and respect and acting out against violence.

In that moment I found what I needed, and what it took 100 fourth graders singing on choral risers to show me. (Cutsie face. Little kids.)

Our buildings can be an image of our own emotions toward change. Do we want it, or not? The Hague, Netherlands, 2011.

Our buildings can be an image of our own emotions toward change. Do we want it, or not? The Hague, Netherlands, 2011.

Stress due to change seems to come from reaction, not proaction. And a negative reaction, like stress, comes from resistance to the unknown. (Yikes, what is he talking about?) A person who does not make themselves vulnerable enough to accept those changes is essentially tensing their muscles every hour of the day. 

Do you consider yourself easily accepting of change? Or not? Why?

Do you think we need to be vulnerable? Or protective?

(Bye.)

(Wave.)

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What I Learned from Indiana Jones

I am sitting on my couch with my laptop over my knees and my headphones by my side; off of my head but still plugged into the audio jack of my computer. On the coffee table next to me is my cell phone patiently waiting for something more interesting to happen. Indiana Jones is hopping from train car to train car on the television. My phone wishes we were there instead.

“That cross is an important artifact. It belongs in a museum.”

And there he is, standing in front of his college class, professing the honest truth of archaeology to wide-eyed students. Audrey the Betta, at her new location in front of the TV, finds nothing dashing about this adventurous professor.

Little does she know that I grew up with this film like a third sibling. While Mom cleared away dinner, Big Sis and I cleaned the living room and retrieved the VCR tape from the movie cabinet (right-hand door. Pull pretty hard. It’s the 3-tape set). Dad cleaned off the countertops and began to prepare the food. Popcorn bubbled out of the big black popcorn machine before being drizzled with butter. Malts were being made by the hand-held blender rattling the countertops with a WHRRRRRRRRR…. RRR…. RRRRR….. R…. RRRR!! I swept my Legos into their big bucket, and Big Sis put the tape into the shiny rewinder on the floor next to the TV stand, which looked like a small animal and made a similar noise as the blender. Yes, Indiana Jones took some serious preparation, and we were professionals. That shit went down like a well-oiled machine.

Dad never liked it when all of the lights were turned off, but sometimes he let it slide. After the tape was rewound, I scooped a bowl of popcorn, held the precious, cold malt in my hands, and waited for the VCR to kick in. First, the room was lit bright blue. This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen. That was the orchestra’s overture. Quiet down, it’s about to start.

And start it did! From deep darkness, the first bright sunlit scene illuminated the room in every corner as though the desert sand was beneath your feet. The music of John Williams rumbled over the popcorn being chewed, the sound effects of punching and whip cracking over the clanking of our spoons, and the sophisticated way Sean Connery aspirated every h in words like which, what, and where kept us silent and attentive. We soaked up every bone, every blonde, every betrayal.

“Dr. Jones? I knew it was you. You have your father’s eyes.”

“And my mother’s ears. But the rest belongs to you.”

Don’t fall for her. She’s the bad guy. But boy, that was a great line.

I am mostly sure that this is where my sister learned to spell archaeologist before she read her first chapter book—though the two weren’t that far apart. For me, Indiana Jones fostered a respect for history, honesty, and National Geographic. Without these things, I may not have become the person I am today.

We could have been in the midst of financial burden during job switches and the end of Clinton’s surplus, but Indiana was just about to find the Holy Grail and exorbitant riches. We could have been waiting for a phone call from a hospital which could end up shaking us to the core, but Dr. Jones Sr. had been kidnapped and could only rely on his cunning son to unlock the clues in his journal. Children in China could be starving, but Shorty was in serious trouble.

As the years come, the moments where such complete submersion into another world and out of my own become more and more scarce. I am expected to always conduct myself professionally, to use a delicate, thoughtful sense of humor, and to work. Hard. Everything I have done has of course been beneficial to my learning and my development. I have spent and will be spending a large amount of money and time on the education I am receiving. I want it to be worth it. I want it to be good.

On top of that, my generation keeps changing. Sometimes I change with them, and sometimes not. Sitting with a cell phone, laptop, headphones, and television all trained in my direction shows you how I am changing with them. My lack of knowledge on the Top 40, reality TV, and clothing fashions are examples of how I am not. Not only is it a change in my age, but a change in America’s cultural currents, and that’s okay.

Change hurts, change is uncomfortable, change is slimy and off-green in color. At other times, it is smooth, sleek, and refreshing. We could all be in that moment when a change will be our tipping point. An easier life may be coming our way. It might be signaled by a peak in the strain of intolerable repetition like a breaking dam, or it might not. It might not be signaled by anything and leave no trace behind it. That type of change is something that goes unnoticed until an unrelated or consequential event happens that causes us to reflect and discover that we have, in fact, grown and altered ourselves over the course of time. You can never notice how much someone has changed unless you look at a photograph from their childhood.

I certainly believe that I am on the brink of a tipping point, and I think that tipping point is the hand that holds the photograph. The headphones, the laptop, the cell phone, the television… how did it come to this point? How did I ever come to watch Indiana Jones in this way? After he pulls himself out of an underground river of petroleum, he holds up a photograph and points at me. “Look at this,” he says. “You used to watch me and my adventures with such devotion and dignity. You haven’t realized it, but this changed through the years.” The petroleum lights on fire and the rats in the ancient tomb scatter, but Indie isn’t fazed. “Nothing used to distract you from me, just the way nothing distracts me from my discovery.”

Yes, you’re right, Indiana Jones never said that. But there is a man who can teach any man to hold the door, stand for a guest, take off his shoes, and shake hands like it’s an art.

How things have changed.