Archived Story

Jessica Sieff: The time has come to change

Published 7:08pm Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Every writer has that moment when they sit down to the blank page and they make a running list of issues they find incredibly important that they want to jump in and discuss. The protests against Wall Street and just about everything else. The state of joblesness. The mom who ran the Chicago marathon, then had a sandwich and then had a baby. The president. Amanda Knox. Our state of miseducation. The war. The economy.
I have a hard time writing columns. I have a hard time writing them because I think how on earth could my opinion on a subject such as any of the ones listed above measure up against the scholars and the experts and the experienced newsmen and women on the front lines of these stories every single day.
It’s like a professional style panic attack that happens between just me and the page.
So I stop. I sit down and I remind myself (fine, fine, this time my mother reminded me) to dial it back. Because no matter how big the issue, we have to remember to bring it down to a point. To a person. To an experience.
I have been experiencing a lot of change in the last month. I don’t like change. I do but I don’t. I don’t like the process of change. It’s painful. You have to adjust your routines, you have to learn new things. You go from being in control, comfortable, acquainted to lost, uncomfortable and adapting. It’s not fun.
When it comes to change, success is not possible without patience.
And if there’s one thing I hate more than change, it’s patience. If it means not changing, I can wait forever. If it means changing, I want everything I need, the knowledge, the clarity the comprehension now. I want expert status.
I’ve changed jobs, which makes me feel new and doubtful every morning over coffee. I constantly question my own abilities. Natural, I know. But annoying. And don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind how incredibly and inexplicably lucky I am to even have a job. It’s what makes succeeding that much more imperative. It’s what raises the stakes.
So with the new and the doubtful comes the sincere appreciation and the desire not to screw things up. There’s also the need to feel value and meaning with every day. Because these days, it seems as though all of our values are so close to extinction that what we do have is so precious. Education, opportunity, ambition. To read the papers these days it may seem as though all of that is lost. But it’s not. Government didn’t come to be out of government. It came out of the innovation of men (and women). It came out of innovation, ambition, opportunity and education. When I hear about the protests in the parks in cities large and small, I hope they think the same way. Because action without clarity is just a lot of noise. I hope somewhere in there, is an innovator who will help his or her corner of the street. Even if it isn’t Wall Street.
At the same time of all this change, I changed my attitude toward health and fitness. I’ve changed the way I eat and I’ve joined a fitness community where technique, practice and persistence is key.
It’s driving me crazy.
In each class, I approach whatever routine we’re focusing on with a drive I never knew I had. That alone gets me all fired up and then … I can’t seem to figure out how to lift the barbels the right way. Or I’ve completely forgotten what it means to jump rope. And meanwhile I watch others lift the bar with ease in one fluid movement, like a ballet. If ballet dancers yelled and slammed bars and bells on the ground after their performance. I watch my newfound friends jump rope a bazillion times in the amount of time I got tripped up on that darn thing twice.
I want to be perfect now. I want to know it all now. I want the technique, the strength. I want it all. If I have to change, my mind says, then let’s go already.
But still, I have to try and try again. And that’s kind of the point. And it seems as though trying should be what’s on many minds as the world struggles through its own phase of change.
Change is scary and painful and it takes a long time before the change feels the same. You get bruised up. You make mistakes. You fear. You try. It takes patience. Which, yes, is frustrating – especially when you’re scared now, you’re making mistakes now, you want it all now.
When I think of some of the bigger issues going on in the world, when I can see how people so easily come together when they’re angry… I hope they can also come together when it comes time get down to it and to try. To try something new, to try to adjust to what we don’t like. To change.
Because our toughest battles are not to undo what we may have done overnight. It’s to reconstruct the habits and the attitudes we have build up over years.

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