I set a motto for myself a few years ago: never trade in progress for familiarity. I was trying to pump myself up for a career move that made me anxious. I was about to trade in familiarity and stability for progress, but it meant starting over in a field I knew nothing about, in an environment I knew nothing about, nor could I guess what to expect from it.
These days, I find myself having to repeat it in my personal affairs as well. Because there are few things more alluring than the familiar. That’s why, even when we swear to the heavens that we’ll change, it’s so easy to fall back into known patterns that we end up barely remembering why we wanted to change anything in the first place. Some changes are absolutely necessary, possibly not just for your own wellbeing, but just as much for the person next to you. Still, because they are as necessary as they are painful to enact, we run away from them and we often allow the warmth of familiarity to convince us the status quo is not so bad, absolutely liveable, great even if you compare it to other situations.
That solely human, God forsaken, messed up tendency to go back to a past which has nothing more to offer you than a warped feeling of familiarity. That is what I cannot process or comprehend as much as I’ve tried, even when I’m the one doing it. Scratching at it, like picking at an itchy scab, you can’t seem to stop yourself. Worse even, there’s this undertone of pleasure while your fingers trace the profile of the almost healed wound. So instead of letting time be time and paint over your soul with the pink of a scar in place of the pink of watercolours, you choose to destroy the ongoing work of art. You should know by now that the scar only gets deeper and a darker shade of painful the more you pick at it. Even so, you keep on going at it like a naughty child.
Moving past the philosophical ruminations, there’s also a more palpable side to all this from a personal perspective. I took part in #walkingmonth for the second year in a row and I’ve been walking like crazy to get to the goal of daily steps I set for myself. Don’t fool yourself thinking the target was set very high, but for someone like me, who’s turned shamefully sedentary in the past few years, it took a great amount of willpower to hit the target on a regular basis. It was a long and tiring month, but it provided me with the motivation to do things differently. There was a sweetness to that feeling of physical exhaustion, like I was actually moving forward from things weighing me down, increasing my endurance and resilience bit by bit, day by day. I’m still recuperating, giving my feet some rest for a few days, but I feel that the habit of walking as much as my daily schedule permits is now formed. All that remains is for me not to fall back into the old, familiar, cosy pattern of finding excuses not to get those steps is.
I’d let my motto whither away for a while, it took a month of walking around the city every single day to remind me of it.