Making major change with minor effort

So, my classic old 1984 Toyota van finally decided it needed a major repair. The transmission surrendered. Can’t complain. I bought the old girl for $700 about two years ago, did a few repairs and drove it to death. Including tires, I have less than $1500 in it. Still deciding if she gets a transplant or retirement. Cool little beach van. Kinda attached to it.

Anyway. In the mean time, my friend Joel Davisson kindly loaned me his apartment building sized Chevy conversion van. (Which is up for sale, by the way.) His van is big enough to hide mine inside. It’s like driving my living room around. Massive beast of a van.

His van has that high top conversion, making almost as tall as the Chrysler building. That top creates an interesting dynamic on my morning drive to work.

Being an old school redneck, used to driving older cars that lack fancy new fangled gadgets like air conditioning, decent stereos, power windows heaters and occasionally transmissions… I drive with the windows down almost everywhere. Years on motorcycles also adds to that need to feel the wind around me. Summer, winter and even in the rain, my windows are usually down.

This van, however seems to have its own water tower installed somewhere in that high top. Every morning, as I reach the same curve coming to a red light, ten thousand gallons of water pour off the top and blast me through that window. It splashes off the mirror and hits me like a water ride at an amusement park. Except it’s never very amusing.

I have been driving this van for over a month now, and I do this EVERY SINGLE MORNING.

This morning, however, as I reached that curve, I did something incredible… I put the window up for a minute. It was a stroke of pure genius. Watching the tidal wave blast over the glass and mirror was pretty satisfying, for once. Not looking like I wet my pants was a nice change, too.

All that gave me a brilliant thought. We all have patterns on our life. Things we do, places we go, words we say… How much of that involves things that are irritating or stressful? How often do we just blindly plow right into the same foolishness day after day, without any thought of changing some detail that can eliminate the stress? Closing that window involved microscopic effort. I knew it was going to happen. I felt smarter. The day started off better.

I had a conversation with a young adult recently. This person is desperate to have everything in their life perfect, as defined by a single moment in time. A moment when they were perfectly happy with every aspect of their life. This desperation is pushing them to drive around with the window down, freaking out that they can’t have the window open and stay dry at the same time. They aren’t willing to take an honest look at the things causing all the stress and do what has to be done.

They are doomed to live with this daily stress because they can’t take advice, they can’t forgive, they can’t move forward. They are making a conscious decision to have the same frustrations day after day.

Just forgive someone, even if they haven’t apologized.
Just clean up the mess that keeps causing fights.
Just put the stupid toilet seat down and stop annoying your wife.
Just skip the burger and make some progress on that waistline.
Just turn off the tv and take your daughter on a date.
Just pick up football and take your son to the park.
Just oil the squeaky door hinge and make the noise stop.
Just smile, even if everything around you demands anger.
Just stop running on the hamster wheel and take a rest.
Just give your wife that hug she wants so badly.
Just shut up once in a while without arguing.
Just take a deep breath and focus on finding a solution.
Just stop focusing so much energy on the problem.
Just close the stupid window.

Whatever it is, that issue that can probably be resolved with a minor change, do it. Most of my marriage problems were resolved by simply acknowledging that I was a bad husband. I didn’t listen to her. I make no effort to do the things that mattered most to her. I made minimal effort to prove my love for her. Just listening to her heart and making small, daily decisions to show her that I was listening made massive changes begin. Small effort, big change. Good start.

Or go through the rest of the day griping about your wet pants. Your choice.

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