It occurs to me that this is the second blog post I've written recently that was inspired by a conversation I watched happen on Twitter. (And people say Twitter isn't good for much.) The conversation was around change, and how some people aren't fortunate enough to be in a position where they feel they can make their situation better. Change is scary as hell, and many times the path isn't clear. How can we change if we don't know where we want to go or how to get there? And then if it's something that impacts the lives of others, things become a bit messier, don't they. It can feel like you have no way out. Stuck in the mud, with no alternative but to stick it out until something better appears. Or maybe just forever.
I offer these words to those who feel stuck in a situation like that: Your world is a carton of milk. Everything you have, everything you are, everything you know. Everything around you has an expiration date. Your job, your car, your relationships, your life. Even the Earth has an expiration date (which hopefully doesn't fall in 2012). For some reason, it's human nature to try and beat this inevitability.
Like putting a carton of milk in the refrigerator, we can take measures to extend the expiration dates of things around us. We may eat better and exercise to extend our body's expiration date. We may work late and on weekends to extend the life of our career. We may perform regular maintenance on our cars so they last longer. But sometimes even if we change the oil exactly when we are supposed to, and do all of the other things we should, eventually, we will have to get a new car.
My point is, depsite your best efforts at making things work, sometimes the expiration date comes anyway. The milk eventually spoils. So why continue to drink milk that's gone past its date in the hopes that it will taste better? You can put all the chocolate syrup you want it in it, but it's still going to taste like shit.
If the expiration date has come and gone of whatever it is that makes you feel stuck, that's okay. It's all okay; it's the natural flow of the world. It's supposed to happen. Recognizing that is the first chance you have to make a change.
When we need to get a new carton of milk, do we just wait for a new one to show up on our countertop? No, of course not. We go out and we buy a new carton of milk, and we try again. You may think you are doing the right thing by staying put, and suffering through whatever situation you're stuck in. Just remember that spoiled milk will never taste good. Although it might seem overwhelming, the effort of "going out and buying a new carton" will pay for itself tenfold. Who knows? Maybe you'll even try something new and buy orange juice. It's your life. Own it. Drink Whatever. You. Want.