What is your catnip? This was part of a tweet I read this morning by Joyce Carol Oates and it intrigued me. I started to think about the things that hold my interest, the things I think I can’t live without. It could be the people I love, my phone (although I hate to admit it), a good book, Lululemon, my pillow, old movies, or a hot cup of coffee. I find all of the above irresistible, but I worry these things might keep me caged with the familiar, or comfortable enough to remain cataleptic (no pun intended). If I want to be transformed by life then what is my incentive for change?
Transformation requires a shift in position, the breaking down of irrelevant cognitive pathways, and a willingness to keep learning. This is not easy work. My view of the world rarely changes unless I make an enormous effort. Letting go of my current positioning is like letting go of a part of myself. This is my identity, this is what defines me, and I hold on with the intensity of a bulldog. So there has to be something that instigates the need for change or I will remain forever stagnant.
For me I think it comes out of boredom, frustration, or heartache. It’s when the old patterns fail to serve that I start hunting around for something new to stimulate my interest. That’s why I applied to grad school. I was bored, frustrated, and the kids no longer needed me 24/7. I think life is like chess, if you can’t make a move, game over. I had to reach down deep before I could write the next chapter in my life.
I knew my brain needed a kick start and I thought a master’s degree would do the trick. It’s a good thing I didn’t know how hard it was going to be, or I would have turned around, and sprinted back to the homestead. Talk about breaking down irrelevant cognitive pathways, grad school blew up my brain, and I experienced a little PTS after comps. I remember feeling lost after graduation. I had a bunch of new neurons but no catnip.
I kept trying on new shoes, literally, and figuratively. I tried teaching, painting, traveling, writing, running, Pilates, even golf. I don’t think it matters what you do, just keep moving towards the things you love, and change will surely follow. I was listening to an interview with Oprah and musician Stevie Nicks. Nicks talked about falling on hard times both personally and professionally. She used this trying experience to write the hit song “Landslide” and this became her impetus for change. We can manifest our dreams as easily as our fears. The lyrics speak so beautifully…
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too
If life is our catnip, I think it should be as irresistible, and intriguing as possible.