“New Year, new me.” – That’s what they all say. It is tempting to take advantage of this annual change in calendar as the New Year dawns upon us, creating a list of “New Year Resolutions”. The idea is always “this year will be different”. Two years ago, I wrote about resolutions like this with skepticism (I have, since then, approached the New Year with a “Find Courage Resolution”: I make a list of 12 things I have never dared to or committed to sufficiently to accomplish over the years and promise to achieve them within the year ahead). The skepticism and change in approach became the recipe to adventures in 2014 and 2015, for which I am incredibly thankful. For 2016, I am almost paralyzed by the uncertainty.
The paralysis is derived from the innate resistance towards change. In my recent read The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz, Dr Grosz (a psychologist) writes of our resistance towards change shown in our incredibly irrational responses to fire. In 1985, 56 people were killed when a fire broke out in the stands of the Valley Parade football stadium in Bradford – close examination of television footage later showed that fans did not react immediately to the fire alarm and continued to watch both the game and the fire, instead of moving to the exits. On another occasion, forensic reconstruction after a famous restaurant fire in the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Kentucky confirmed that many customers sought to pay before leaving, dying in the fire. (p. 121-124) We have an incredible resistance towards change to the point of being completely irrational – when change arrives we refuse to face the inevitable and trap ourselves with the thought of “what it should be like” or “just the same way it has been, it has to continue to be”. We paralyze ourselves. This 2016, as we leave school and the school life, a fire alarm is ringing – will we resist the change and wait around? What are we waiting for?
As we proceed to tell the story of our lives that is so much shaped by our own decisions from hereon, my greatest fear are the brick walls. At this point, I have a dream: one involving a scholarship and Occupational Therapy studies in the United Kingdom. From where I am and where I want to be in a year, I foresee brick walls – the challenges that will stand in my way. These brick walls might come in the form of people, unforeseen circumstances or unthinkable constraints. Before this current read by Dr Grosz, I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It is from Professor Pausch that I learned that “brick walls are not there to keep us out, they are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something: they are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough”. So I hope, for myself, that it is with this attitude that I respond rationally to this fire alarm and embrace the change that feels so much like a revolution.
Resolution or revolution? Revolution and I’m ready.