The Ukiah Daily Journal
Following the trail to success
I violated the law. OK, that sounds more sinister than it actually is. I didn't hack someone's identity, hold up an unsuspecting victim at gunpoint or anything similar. Let me explain.
Sunday afternoon, nice weather, light breeze — we want to be outside and we like walking. “Where would you like to go today?” she asked. “I'm tired of the same old places.”
“There's a trail by the coast,” I replied. “It's flat, nice view, some of my friends said it's very pretty. Why don't we try that?”
Unfortunately, suspended on a chain across the entrance was a handwritten sign: “Closed.” As far as barriers go, it weren't nuthin'; we could effortlessly step over it or go around it. For that matter, any Joe Schmoe could have hung it there.
“Darn,” I said, “It looks like we won't be able to do this.”
Yes, I realize on the grand scale of rebellious acts, circumventing a “closed” sign on a public pathway won't get me appointed as spokesperson for Anarchy Now, but that's how I was raised and old habits die hard. “Why?” she asked. “Won't” is Barrier One, hindering us from change via an inner sense of acceptable or unacceptable behaviors. In many cases, “won't” is totally appropriate. “I won't cheat on my wife.” “I won't steal.” “I won't hurt others.” Yet, in other instances, it indiscriminately holds us victim: “I won't go to the doctor.” “I won't apologize.” “I won't change my opinion.”
“We can't trespass; it's against the law,” I pointed out.
Sometimes, after analyzing the situation, “won't” becomes “can't,” allowing us to attribute our “stay-in-placeness” to a force outside of ourselves, but with that choice enters the equation.
“We know it was open earlier. It's safe. Let's see what it's like.”
Pondering her logic out loud, I muttered, not totally convinced. “Well, I guess we could…”
“Could” unlocks the realm of Possible positioning us within an imaginary condition and beginning to swing our thoughts from excuses to options.
Still not totally committed, I appended, “I might be willing to go a little way. If it's unsafe, or there seems to be a reason why it's closed, we come back, OK?”
At this level of change, we're no longer considering theoretical concepts. “I might” projects us into the picture, taking actual actions, making a change, depicting the results.
“Sounds good. You want to join me?”
“Yeah,” I said, less wavering in my resolution, “I will.” Once we reach the realm of “I will,” we substitute thought with observable action.
We walked past the chain, leading to the ultimate chapter: “I did.”
I am not blind to the irony that the activity of walking a footpath is also an obvious metaphor for the route traveled by any change, whether it's losing weight, joining a gym or improving a marriage.
At first, we are stagnant, guided by the internal mores of what we won't do. “It's out of the question, a deal killer!” Upon slow painful realization that we indeed might be “right” — but also miserable — we place firmly the responsibility on external forces blocking our success. “I can't. It's too hard. The system's rigged. Why bother?” Enter patience and guidance, and then imagination begins to wonder, “What if? Could I actually do it? How amazing would that feel?” Supportive thoughts lead us to test the water: “I might try it for a bit and see how it feels. I can always stop,” progressing to “I will try it.” Transition complete, we proudly proclaim, “I did it!”
I know me. This wasn't the first step down a slippery slope of ignoring authority, but you know what? It did empower me. As soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to defiantly rip the “do not remove” tags from my pillows.
Scott “Q” Marcus, RSCP, is a life coach and Religious Science Practitioner, as well as a professional speaker and the founder of the inspirational Facebook Group, Intentions Affirmations Manifestations. He is directing and starring in the world premiere event, “Never After Happily,” at the Northcoast Repertory Theater in Eureka in February at ncrt.net.