Everybody feels immediate change. When Pádraig’s accident happened, my world was turned upside down in no time at all. Boom. It was such a shock that I probably won’t recover from it anytime soon.
But what about slow change? What about stuff that happens over a long period of time, maybe over years? Change that happens so slowly that I mightn’t even notice it?
Some years ago, I had a meeting in one of these super cool US multinationals with super cool people everywhere. Guess what? I felt super cool myself. Didn’t take long And then, the meeting was over and we went down the stairs together, passing by a huge glass window letting us look into the super cool gym. A few steps further down and a huge mirror, reflecting the staircase and, of course, the super cool people just walking down the steps. Only that, in the middle of them, there was this rather un-cool, ‘slightly’ older looking man. I did not look at all in that mirror as I looked liked in my mind.
Or like (bad) habits.
I used to smoke. And I liked it. To tell you the truth, I still like the idea of smoking. Anyhow, when the time came, I gave it up. Easy. Only that for quite some time, I went into the same shop where I used to buy the cigarettes at the same time and had to find something to buy. On autopilot, I just walked into this shop to buy cigarettes I didn’t want to buy anymore, never mind smoke. It had been my routine to walk into this shop every morning for a long time and to change that routine was far more difficult than I had thought.
In essence: you can be doing something or you can be someone that you don’t want to do or that you don’t want to be. And because you have slowly slipped into this over a long time, you might be old, or live unhealthy in whatever way, or do stuff on autopilot you wouldn’t do if you reflected properly on it — you might not even notice.
So when I hear health professionals telling me, what seems to me to be, really un-reasonable things and in an unreasonable way, they do this most likely not because they are odd, but because they don’t realise anymore that what they are saying does not make sense. They have moved slowly into a space that is very re-assuring and calm — with little or no space left for ambition, enthusiasm and drive fpr change.
We will need to give them new reference points. We need to tell them that the king has no clothes on.