In the good old days, Christmas used to be a very special occasion. Considering that those days were old for me, it’s not even that long ago that children still had something to look forward to. It used to be the day preceded by the greatest anticipation – that golden moment when you unwrapped the most coveted presents with trembling fingers.
It’s different now. Children get ‘presents’ from their near-absent parents every other week when they go shopping together during the weekend to pass the time. There’s no longer a wish list that requires patience, just capricious finger pointing. More than that, kids can just go and get any conceivable kind of treat at their local supermarket.
While children lost their sense of wonder, adults acquired a whole new conception of it. Putting together our ‘New Year’s resolutions’, we set unrealistic goals seduced by ubiquitous advertisements like ‘Lose 5 kilos in a week’. So we end up with a lengthy list and swear by it for a week after Christmas.
Most of the time, we approach change with a sort of black-and-white mentality. The past is all sooty and dark. We just want to get out of there as soon as we can, preferably with the least likeness to Zwarte Piet. In contrast, the future holds the promise. There, we picture ourselves as knights in shining armour, all our problems solved and the world is taken care of.
There’s just one problem. The present. It’s these fluffy striped shoe-socks that we find ourselves in. We were given those without a receipt to get a refund. Our initial instinct is to cook up a hard and fast solution. We’d do anything to get a fix, even if it’s a short term one.
Yet, if you are after a long term shift, it’s time to get comfortable with the discomfort. We all want a total revolution, all right. If not today, then the day after. As flashy and dramatic as it is in our imagination, in reality things mostly change through gradual reform. No matter how much we’d love to think in terms of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, the grey zone is where the genuine transformation occurs.