After a wonderful week in New York City, my family and I came home to very unwelcome house guests — fleas. Who knows if the “doggie door” we installed in the basement allowed these pesky critters into our home or if our scottie smuggled them in for company. No matter — they’re the sort of visitor that demands your attention. So, we bombed them, bathed them, and sprayed the ever-loving life out of them. All is fine now. Except the creepy feeling that one is nipping at my ankles. I can’t shake my sensitivity to the flea — even though he’s gone. I scratch on impulse. I stare at surfaces anytime I think I detect movement. I sit stone still concentrating to see if any foreign bodies are feeding off my body. Sound strange?
I wonder if this isn’t how things are with lots of difficult circumstances in life. When something unpleasant comes into your life and leaves again, does it ever really leave? Living as a prisoner to your past isn’t so uncommon. I read an incredibly depressing article about weight loss just a few days ago that basically explained that once we become fat, despite our best efforts, we will probably stay fat. It seems that our bodies have a hard time forgetting our old ways. Talk about your past haunting you. Yikes! This week in the news (Martin/Zimmerman) has been another way of thinking about the challenges of moving forward. No matter where you stand on the issue, it is certain that the past is still very much a part of our present.
Growing and improving ourselves requires change. Yet, the sheer inertia of life as we know it makes change so dishearteningly difficult. Popular claim says it takes 21 days to form a habit. Some researchers say it takes anywhere from 18 days to five months to establish new ways, with the average being 66 days. I doubt I fall anywhere in the average range, which means I am probably somewhere in that five month range. FIVE MONTHS! Geez. I can’t remember ever doing something new and contrary to an old habit on a daily basis for five months. Even still, the choice lies before me. Learn to live with the fleas (or idea of fleas) or flee from the feeling that the fleas rule my life.
I choose flee.
Though I’m more likely than not to struggle, become frustrated, and possibly even fail, I’d rather flee the flea feeling than learn to live with the creepy dread that my happiness and contentment rests with my past.
Now, I’m off to do Buns of Steel. It’s day three. God help me make it a habit somehow and defy the odds that once means always.