Granola Talk: Gather No Moss

Well lookie here, it’s the first installment of the new and improved Granola Talk. Honestly, I thought it would be much longer before I took the time to write one. But serendipity has struck again as two posts came across my path that had me playing blog-connect-the-dots. So I’ve set my other in-draft posts aside to present you with the juxtaposition of these lovely offerings from two of my favorite bloggers.

Musings on change…

So Justin at The Great Family Escape posted School. Work. And Traveling Forever. yesterday and I’ve been noodling on it quite a bit since then. What’s been on my mind is the conundrum he articulated about our school years being punctuated by change and our adult work-years being mind-numbingly static for the most part. It strikes me as a problem in which both parties, i.e. modern society and us as individuals, are complicit in perpetuating.

On the one hand like Justin mentions, it seems the modern world demands unchanging normalcy of us. The people around us, including ourselves, seem to feel entitled to know what they can count on. And, truthfully, that’s not entirely unreasonable. But it seems being consistent and unwavering has achieved near-virtue status. Unfortunately there are very heavy expectations that ride piggy-back on those qualities.

On the other hand, it seems we allow ourselves to be pulled into these unchanging lives filled with the expectations of others. Maybe we resist changes because on the surface they seems to cost us so much, whether it’s a move that’s expensive and separates us from our family and friends or a career shift that sets us back in terms of vacation time or status. Maybe we opt into the juggernaut semi-consciously. Most of us grow up in the worker-bee system and outwardly, it doesn’t seem like a bad way to go. Most people seem happy…or happy enough so why not join the status quo club. Certainly the sense of security that the status quo seems to offer can be very comforting and maybe it’s the worth the trade-off for many.

Occasionally we do feel compelled to make a change though, taking our chances that the next job or house (or whatever) will be better. We roll the dice and sometimes we come out ahead, sometimes not. Or maybe we’re forced to make a change because of circumstances outside of our control and we have to make the best of the situation. In either case, it’s those changes that force renewed breath into our lives. As they say, it’s outside of the comfort zone that the magic happens. We can be excited or fearful (or a little of both) of change but that jolt of the unknown is what makes us feel alive again, just like the first day of school in Justin’s post.

The cost of not changing is stagnation and the death of curiosity. When we’re not mindful of the direction, or lack thereof, our lives are taking, we fill that void of monotony with possessions we think will spice up our lives. They’re flash-in-the-pan boosts that don’t add anything meaningful to our lives long-term and in-fact, slowly drag us further down the road towards lives were hard-pressed to change because we’re buried too deep in debt or other obligations.

At any rate, this is what I’ve been stewing on for a couple of days as I watch the people around me and then place that scrutiny upon myself.

The nuances of life…

Then, in catching up on my reading I came across Richard Louv’s post The Little Things which is an essay from one of his books.

Not only is it a beautiful essay but it skillfully reminds us to slow down, pay attention, and be fully present. It struck a chord with me as I was considering Justin’s reality check on change. Because even as change-resistant as the world might seem in terms of the structure of our lives, things are still changing around us whether we like it or not. Our spouses, children, friends, and parents are slowly changing. They’re all growing in years and wisdom right in front of us. If we don’t take the time to notice and appreciate, we’re left to lament the passage of years rather than celebrate them.

Connecting the dots…

I fear I’ve painted a bleak picture here in terms of how the bulk of us live our lives these days. But I see unhappiness and I wonder why more people don’t actively combat it. Certainly it takes time and tenacity but it seems so many people want a change yet don’t fight for it. That’s resignation. And resigned acceptance of how the world works is what fuels the status quo. That impacts us greatly as individuals because when you resign control of your life’s choices to others, you emotionally resign altogether and miss even the little things that add happiness and hope to your life.

And that’s why I found Justin and Richard’s posts so complimentary. We need change to thrive. A different perspective allows us new insight and appreciation for the world at large and the little things in our lives. Change is the mental stimulation we need to notice those details around us.

In spite of the downer tone of this post, I’m actually quite hopeful. I’m hopeful because I also see movements happening out there that are giving the status quo a good kick in the rear. There’s the happiness movement, the slow movement, the minimalist movement, the back-to-nature, and the location independent movement that are picking up some great steam. I love the success people are finding in breaking the mold. It’s exhilarating to watch this happening.

At the root of all of these movements is change. Changing the way the world thinks and lives is no easy task and, trust me, the people involved in these movements are fighting hard for that change. There are so many more like Justin and Richard, each working to create a world that allows us to thrive instead of just survive. They’re forging different paths, showing others that change is not only possible, but desirable.

So to close with just one more idiom that sums up in six words what I’ve taken over a thousand to articulate: The rolling stone gathers no moss. I, for one, have no intention of getting smothered under a pile of moss so I hope you’ll continue to follow our adventures as we roll along, working hard for change in our lives here at Camp Granola.

Your turn…

Are you making changes? Why or why not? Grab a cup of coffee and discuss. The lines are open.

And now for your moment of green…

Gathering Moss

Keep on rolling...

2 thoughts on “Granola Talk: Gather No Moss

  1. December 1, 2011 at 6:13 am

    I really like this post – definitely thought-provoking. This statement says it all: But I see unhappiness and I wonder why more people don’t actively combat it.

    I don’t understand that either. I was downtown at the Occupy encampment the other day and one of the men was talking about how much he hated living in Boise. And yet he doesn’t move. He wasn’t working, so work wasn’t tying him down. His family isn’t here. To my way of thinking, there was no reason for him to stay – yet he did.

    I think it’s a fear of the great unknown. Better the devil you know that the devil you don’t know. Change means challenging the status quo and that’s scary. What if?

    We faced a LOT of what-ifs on our journey. Heck, we faced a lot of what-ifs before we even set foot out the door! We easily could have allowed those what-ifs to hold us back, but we didn’t.

    I’ve often pondered the idea of what it is that sets those of us to live our dreams apart from those who don’t. There must be something within us that allows some of us to head out into parts unknown while others remain safely ensconced in the comfortable known.

    I certainly don’t know the answers, but it’s interesting to think about.

    1. Val
      December 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks for your comment Nancy. I think one of the problems is that the answers are different for each person. It requires taking the time to do a self-inventory about what you want out of life. It gets complicated though when you’re trying to balance appreciating what you have with pursuing your dreams. I certainly understand how we can become paralyzed by that dichotomy. But there are times when it should be simple like your example of the Boise man. At some point you’re just making excuses to cover that fear of the unknown.

      It seems there are at least two types of people when it it comes to realizing your safe, comfortable life has just as many “what ifs” as the life following your passion. I think the difference (that I know you’ve thought about greatly) shows up in how we respond to that realization. Some people find it overwhelming and they dig heir heels in further in an attempt to rigidly control their lives i.e. they take the non-acceptance route. Then there are others like you who use it as a springboard for action. They accept the unpredictable as part of the package and that allows them to roll with the punches and make the adjustments necessary to keep the dream going.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *