After being a stubborn, lazy, cowardly idiot, our hero has finally come to fight to hold on to the one who means the world to him.
I’ve never been a fan of change.
I know that’s not an original concept, but I’m so opposed to change that I once tried to take out a restraining order against it. Despite my well-crafted argument and an impassioned plea to the court, the judge laughed me out of the courtroom.
Once again, I did not get my way.
Some things never change.
One of the first things I learned in Screenwriting class at NYU was that every screenplay needs an inciting event. This is a scene that should take place within the first couple of pages and propels the story forward. Without this key ingredient, the plot will stagnate and the script will end up as bland as everyday life, which would make absolutely no sense since the whole point of a screenplay is to create a movie that will offer the audience an escape from its mundane existence.
When you avoid change at all cost like I do, not only do you deprive yourself of such events that could send life off in an entirely different and thrilling direction, but you also risk losing someone or something that you hold dear.
A couple of months ago, my very structured and boring life was plagued by an unexpected and most unwanted inciting event.
While proper protocol in such a circumstance is for me to simply try to ignore it, and then panic only after it’s far too late to do anything about it, something was different this time.
Life had completely blindsided me. I was broken, confused, angry, and it would have been second nature to curl up in the fetal position and play the victim.
But I didn’t. Well, maybe I did initially, but only briefly because old habits die hard.
I found myself at a familiar crossroads. I could take my usual route, refuse to change, and allow life to steamroll me yet again, or I could finally do something about it.
For once in my unbelievably predictable life, I actually chose change.
Why was my reaction different?
Perhaps I had finally learned from my numerous previous mistakes that burying my head in the sand wasn’t a winning strategy. More likely, however, was that I quickly realized that what I was about to lose was irreplaceable.
Because of my steadfast refusal to ever stray too far from my comfort zone or alter my routine, I have lost so much. After four decades of being a stubborn, lazy, cowardly idiot, the time had finally come to change my priorities and fight to hold on to someone who meant the world to me.
When I finally embrace change, I don’t take baby steps. I gobble up ground with the long strides you’d expect from a guy who is 6’3” and has the legs to support that frame.
I’m currently in the process of putting my life through a complete overhaul. While I love eating whoopie pies and doing nothing more strenuous than watching the Yankees game, such behavior has not been beneficial to my overall health. Now I get up early to go for a run before work, I’ve gone back to the gym for the first time in over a year, and I’ve made drastic changes to my diet (the only whoopie pies in my life now are in the title of this column).
The most important change, though, has been an adjustment in my approach to life. Being labeled a “grumpy old man” by the person whose opinion matters most to me should’ve resulted in an immediate alteration of my attitude, but for reasons I’m still grasping to understand, I chose to continue my impression of Snow White’s least charming dwarf.
Living life in a more positive manner is a change that was a long time in coming, but not as easy to implement as it sounds. It’s much simpler to drag myself out of bed before sunrise to get in a three mile run than it is to smile my way through a day at work.
Since this has been such a challenge, I’ve had to make yet another change. I’ve always thought that turning to a total stranger to discuss my problems was a sign of weakness. I was raised to believe that there was a stigma attached to going outside of my immediate family with personal issues, so it was a giant step for me to seek out help of this kind.
In talking to this therapist, and opening up about what goes on inside my head, I’ve learned that I’m an introvert with a deep-seated fear of the unknown. I’m not necessarily opposed to change, I’m just afraid of what might be waiting for me when I travel outside of my comfort zone. Since I’m an introvert, I naturally feel more comfortable on my own, which would explain why I was so awkward and grumpy in my attempts to express how important a certain someone is to me.
This was a great eye-opener for me, and made me wish I’d gone for help years earlier. Maybe my life would be much different now if I’d only had this information back in the day.
As difficult as all this has been, I can tell that my life is better because I finally hugged it out with change. I’ve learned to better prioritize my life to make optimum use of my time, and this change alone has made me happier, less stressed, and aware of how stupidly I’d been living.
I’ve applied for a position at work that would lead to a promotion and more financial stability.
I look forward to my runs and going to the gym. I’m more social and less irritable. I’ve remembered that words are a very powerful weapon in my arsenal, and life is better when I use them for good.
I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to undo the repercussions of that inciting event, and I might still end up losing someone very dear to me, but at least I’m doing everything in my power to keep her from just vanishing from my life forever.
I know the conventional wisdom is that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but my caveat to that is that a good man never stops learning, regardless of his age.
I’m open to change, I’m willing to put in the work to be a better man, and I can see evidence that my life has improved because of it. Now I just need to work on my timing so that I never again have to worry about losing someone I love because I’m scared of what might be out there beyond my comfort zone.
How do you feel about change? Have you ever lost someone because you were so set in your ways? Did such a loss inspire you to change?
One thing I don’t plan to change is writing this column every Friday. See you next week!
Photo: Rodrigo Huerta/Flickr