Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
— George Bernard Shaw
It’s funny how life’s lessons can be seen in simple things like toys. I remember the abacus-type toys of years ago, and how much fun it was to move the little bead along the wire, sometimes making everything line up, sometimes pushing one along, clearly not matching the beads on the wires above and below.
Then came Patent US 5112268 A, a bigger version of a bead on a wire. It is something like a roller coaster, allowing you to move the bead all over the place, still on a wire but moving over and under and in a loop-the-loop.
The word “loop” comes from a Scottish Gaelic word “lùb,” which means to bend.
There’s the lesson I’ve learned, right there in the loop-the-loop: Life isn’t meant to be a bead stuck in one spot that you can just spin around. Life is meant to be a bead that can move along the wire, or in life’s case along a path, beginning in one place, moving under and over where it might have begun with a few loop-the-loops along the way.
A person’s life is still on the same path (or wire) from the first curve to the last, with lots of colorful bends. That is the one thing that is dependable.
Dependability is a good thing and a great trait in a person, if by dependability you mean they will always show up and will always be there if you need them. There is not much more important to an employer than a dependable employee, one who will be there every day to get the job done.
It’s important to know that your spouse or partner or your parents are dependable, so you don’t have to wonder if they’ll be there at the end of the day. The core person inside of each of us, hopefully, never changes, unless you have been a heel most of your life, in which case you have permission to change.
It seems to me, though, that there comes a point when it is at least as an important to be bendable as it is to be dependable. That point is in our thinking.
I think a lot. Many things I’ve believed throughout life have been disproven: cracking your knuckles won’t cause arthritis, though it can dislocate tendons; going out with wet hair won’t cause you to have a cold, though it might be uncomfortable on a chilly day; and eggs aren’t the cause of cholesterol problems, saturated fat is.
Ptolemy, a mathematician and astronomer living around 100 A.D., was certain that our Earth was the center of the universe, and after enjoying popularity for over 1,000 years, that belief had to change.
People such as scientists Galileo and Copernicus, showed how wrong that fact was. The new truth is that neither our planet nor any one of us is at the center of the universe, after all.
Talking with a friend recently, I shared my thoughts of how I see my life as a wire, and I am the colorful bead moving around (I’m probably the purple one).
Just as we can push those beads forward and backward on the wire, I can move forward and backward in life: Seeking new understanding of different topics, I move forward, and sometimes deciding that an old understanding fits me better, I might scoot back.
Growing up, I learned about the importance of crisply ironed clothes, and as an adult I’ve discovered a steamer is sometimes an easier choice, but sometimes the crisp crease made by an iron calls me back to pull out the board and plug in old faithful. It’s OK to decide old ways of doing and thinking work for us.
It’s a scary thing to risk the change that will come when we listen to a new point of view. What if we find that we change how we feel? Will people still accept us, or will we be the odd man out with a new perspective?
As exciting as it is when we see ourselves changing, we must remember an important thing: If it’s possible for you to change, it is possible that others have changed who they are, too, and that is just as exciting for them. Accepting and celebrating each other as we experience those moves along the wire is imperative if we want to enjoy relationships.
I always think of the woman who cut the end off of the roasts she cooked, and her daughter, and later her granddaughter, followed suit. When the granddaughter asked her mother why they did this a particular way, the only answer was “Well, that’s just how your grandmother always did it.”
The grandmother was then asked why she had always cooked it this way, and she gave a simple reply. “It’s nothing special about the way I cook. I had to cut it down so it would fit in the only roasting pan I had.”
It had nothing to do with the way of preparing the meat and everything to do with the grandmother adjusting for what she had available. What if you could try to think differently (the bead sliding forward), allowing yourself permission to return if the new knowledge didn’t work for you (the bead sliding backward)?
There are plenty of people who absolutely will not bend, and they’ll never really make progress. and in that way their dependability is a downfall as they are the bead stuck on the wire spinning around but never moving.