It dawned on me today, in a moment of rare calm and reflection, that big change only seems to happen in the wake of some kind of crisis or great disruption. This is true not just for personal growth, but for institutional change, too. Inertia or adherence to the status quo is such an incredibly strong force that it becomes an immovable mountain. Political systems, school systems, metabolic systems…all of them strain to hold on to whatever form they have ultimately taken, slowly, over time. And to alter the course, expand the walls, redefine the rules, or (god forbid) become something radically new, can feel virtually impossible and is, frankly, something that does not happen often.
But change can happen and usually, in order for that change to occur, the impetus for it comes out of the destruction wrought by some external force. War, natural disaster, any number of headlines declaring that the sky is, indeed, falling, or even the sudden death of a seemingly healthy person–all have the potential to spur significant change. But is the big fallacy that this disruption has to come from the outside? Can it, in fact, come from within? And, if so, how do we become brave enough to not just allow for but to actually cause our own internal disruption? It feels somehow wrong to look for that which would disrupt and destabilize? To seek out discomfort??
When the Ghostbusters (well, really, it’s just Dan Aykroyd in all of his awesomeness) accidentally chooses their own Destructor, their impending doom seems to be softened just a bit by the familiarity of the beloved Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It was not premeditated; it came out of a single moment of nostalgia. A moment when Ray was terrified of what was happening and his mind reflexively gave him a place of tranquility and safety. And it was this innocent, harmless icon that brought the threat of potential death–total destruction–to the one who had sought comfort there.
Perhaps if we pay attention to the details, the innocent moments, we can become surprised by the catalyst that begins the destruction of our status quo, creating the freedom to find a new path to continue our journey. It is about more than just holding two opposing ideas side by side: growth and destruction; safety and danger; status quo and change…it is about recognizing how they are intricately connected.