It starts first thing in the morning. Whether it’s an alarm clock screaming in your ear, or sunlight motivating an unconscious groan, your bleary eyes bring the room into sharp focus and you’re faced with the first dilemma of the day: get up or stay in bed?
Most choices we’ve already made, established consciously at some point, perpetuated by habit, before settling into routine. From that point on, you barely have to think. You’re running on autopilot. Steve Jobs was famous for consolidating his wardrobe to one outfit, saving mental energy for more important tasks. He popularized the idea that decisions take time, effort and energy and why not just minimize them all together?
Free will sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Civil unrest, uprisings, wars, laws, religion itself, all derives from the need for a way to structure our lives around the infinite possibilities we both have and can imagine having. But, things don’t stay the same. Tastes change, responsibilities shift, new expectations arise, old values wilt and we go searching for new ones.
Self-help gurus often use the exercise of mentally visualizing how you’d like to see yourself in 5 years and then work backwards to figure out the steps to get there from where you are now. There are many things we would like to do, and it’s not that we don’t know how — in fact, we’re usually quite precise in the how, only we haven’t mustered the will to put those changes into effect. As anyone who has tried kicking a habit, eating healthier, or exercising regularly can tell you — it’s hard to make that shift.
For the past couple years I’ve been trying to get into stretching, then when I’m limber I’ll move into yoga. Up until 3 months ago, I’d made zero progress. I never thought of stretching except at times where the opportunity was not available. Then, one night, after pulling a muscle in my lower back — a reoccurring injury that was my motivation for improving my flexibility to begin with — I decided to take a CBD edible. As I lay on the ground and experienced the warm numbing in my sore muscles, that state of relaxation and connection produced something amazing… I extended by body as large as it could, then contracted it until I was a ball, expanding and contracting — like one giant organ, with each of my limbs moving naturally along with me. I was stretching. Really stretching, with full effort.
I tried stretching again the next night, this time without the edible, and sure enough it produced the same relaxing effect. Of course, life isn’t that simple, and the following day saw me skip my stretching and put it off for a week. And then, weeks went by, and my stretching schedule, while erratic, was at least now on my schedule.
Things change. Nothing stays the same. But, like in nature, change is gradual and we can’t expect immediate results over night.