“Me Not Ready”—On Shaking Off Rusted Paradigms and Habits

When my son was four he told me a girl had asked him to marry her.

When I asked how he answered, he said to me, I told her “Me not ready.”

“A wise choice,” I told him.

There are so many times I’ve thought to myself, “Me not ready.”

Fast forward to the wee fella’s swim lessons.

So one summer day when my wise little son was taking swim lessons, he stood yet again at the edge of the deep end of the pool…

For a couple of weeks he’d been contemplating jumping in.

The teacher had been watching and waiting, then quietly walked over, stood behind him, and ever-so-gently, just barely touched him on the back with her fingertip.

My son jumped into the deep end and never looked back.

Hard lessons that I wasn’t ready for… until I was.

In the 90s my dad used to call Bill Clinton a con man, which really annoyed me. I liked Bill Clinton. I found him captivating and intelligent. My dad pointed out the damage things like NAFTA and the Crime Bill of ’94 would do to the US.

Well, well, well, turned out my dad was right.

On the one hand, I didn’t want to hear that stuff, and on the other, I couldn’t process the stuff I was hearing.

I wasn’t ready.

Doing my liberal duties!

Then came the George W years, in which I fulfilled my duties as a liberal by blaming everything bad on the Republican president.

After that came Obama, who I voted for both times. I again fulfilled my liberal duties by blaming all Obama’s difficulties on Republican obstruction.

But wait, something’s not adding up.

Then in 2016 I watched my party cheat the frontrunner in the primaries right out of the race and proceed to lose the election they promised they had in the bag.

At last I was ready.

I was ready to accept that I’d been lied to. I was ready to accept that I’d bought into many a lie throughout my entire life, in fact.

It wasn’t just politics I was ready for, though.

At last.

I was ready.

I’d already been coming along nicely in the skeptical department, in that I was questioning everyday things like history, school, work, religion, health, behavior, even science (’cause remember, science has made both contact lenses and nuclear weapons possible).

I was becoming more and more open as I shook off rusted paradigms and habits.

So by the time the 2016 US election came around, I was ready.

Is anything actually set in stone?

I’ve come to realize that we hear what we’re told, and that much, if not most, is just someone’s agenda.

And it turns out, none of it is set in stone.

I mean, remember learning that Columbus discovered America—and believing it?

Here’s the thing—we’ve been sitting on the surface of what there is to know and what we ourselves are capable of. And just as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz had the power all along to do as she wished, everything we need and want is there—and we see it when we’re ready.

It’s a process.

Coming into focus.

It takes letting go, even just a little at a time, of habits, thoughts, institutions, attitudes, convention, practices, and cultural promises that no longer serve us.

It’s okay to move along at your own pace, of course—we’d be straight-up overwhelmed to take it on all at once anyway. Just be open to letting go of old (and new) stories that don’t add up.

And don’t be surprised one day when the Great Swim Teacher of Life lightly touches your back with a fingertip and nudges you.

Go ahead and jump.

You’re ready.

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