Change Can Be Messy
Change can be messy. Some people liken change to giving birth. It can be a beautiful experience, or it can be filled with all sorts of pain, trauma, and drama. Either way, there’s a bit of cleanup involved.
Personally, I’ve never been fond of the birth analogy, accurate as it can be. I’m a bit of a geek, so I like to compare major life changes to entropy (chaos), as it relates to the second law of thermodynamics. The law states, “In any closed system, the entropy of the system will either remain constant or increase.”
That’s a fancy way of saying that your life can either stay as it is and suck, or it can get better. If you choose the latter, messes are inevitable.
Let’s say that your life is like water in a big pot. The water sits there, stuck inside of the pot and not going anywhere. One day, you want to do something different, so you decide to make pasta. The first step to making pasta is to move the pot from the counter where it’s been sitting onto the stove. As you move the pot, the water sloshes around a bit, and some of it may even spill onto the floor. The mess begins.
Once on the stove, you have to boil the water if you want to cook your pasta. So, you turn on the heat. The water molecules in the pot feel the heat, and they get agitated (you would too if someone lit a fire under your butt.) The molecules start to move around, and pretty soon they’re moving around so much the water is splashing around in the pot. If your pot is really full, the water splashes all over the stove and even onto the floor (which means more mopping up). If you’re like me, you’ll probably get distracted while waiting for the water to boil, so a big mess is inevitable.
Now it’s time to introduce the pasta to the water. Unfortunately, you forget about the steam coming out of the pot, and you burn your hands while putting in the pasta. Now you have more chaos as pain (and a few choice expletives) are introduced to the mix. You nurse your injured hands (and pride) as the pasta cooks, and meanwhile more water splashes onto the stove and floor. This is NOT what you had in mind and you’re DEFINITELY not happy.
Still, the thought of eating some fresh pasta motivates you to endure the chaos you created. You smile as you think about the end result, and you get excited when you remember your mom’s homemade pasta sauce sitting in the cupboard. The pain in your hands goes away, and soon the pasta is ready. You pull the pot off the stove, and as you do so you notice that the water has changed. Before, it was clear, featureless and boring.
Now, the water is frothy and bubbling, and it’s filled with pasta. It’s exciting to watch – especially now that you’re minutes away from enjoying the meal you just cooked. Then it hits you. The water in the pot is permanently changed. Some of it became steam, some of it spilled onto the stove and floor, and the remainder looks murky because you added salt while you were cooking the pasta. It can’t go back to the way it was before. You can scoop out all the pasta, but the salt remains, as do small bits and pieces of what you cooked. That doesn’t matter though. You’ve created something new, and you’re fully set on enjoying it. So you clean up the mess, pour your mom’s homemade sauce onto the pasta, and savor your meal. Order follows the chaos.
That’s how change works in our lives. I realize that slightly I misused the second law of thermodynamics to illustrate my point (and that science purists may be screaming for my head), but I’m writing in terms that the average Joe or Jane can understand. The bottom line is that the moment you start down a new path, shit happens. You either step in shit, shit gets dumped on you, or shit hits the fan and doesn’t get distributed evenly. Sometimes it’s a little bit, other times it’s a truckload. Whatever the case, if you have a destination in mind, and if your desire to get there is strong enough, you’ll figure out that to get to the place where the grass is greener, you’ll have to cross the cow pasture.
The good news is that you don’t have to stick to the path you initially chose. You can switch to a new path whenever you want – especially if “it” gets too deep. That’s part of the adventure, and you’ll often discover that the new path (or paths) will get you to your destination faster than if you stuck to your original one.
So get out there, make your messes, and be confident knowing that out of the chaos you create, order – and a better life – inevitably follows.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.