A woman walks up to her local 99 cent store. She has been there at least a hundred times before. She pushes on the front door to enter the shop and the door does not open. In the past, it has always opened when she pushed on it. She pulls out her cell phone and checks the time. Yes, she is there within the shop’s normal operating hours, so why isn’t the door opening? She thinks that they must have locked it for some reason.
Oh look, there comes someone now to unlock it for her. But as the man approaches the door, our woman sees that he is a customer who is leaving after having made his purchases. Then she thinks that is okay because now someone will have to unlock the door and let him out and she can go in. But the man pushes on the door from the inside and it moves. She steps back out of the way and stares at the door in some puzzlement as it closes once more and the man walks to his car. The man wonders to himself what is up with the woman who is just standing outside of the door. He wonders why she doesn’t just go in; there must be something a little wrong with her.
She pushes again on the door and it does not open. Now she is really confused. She does not know that just yesterday, the old door and door frame which allowed the door to swing both out and in had been replaced with a door and frame which only allow the door to swing out. Will our poor confused woman realize that she has to let go of what she knew about the door in order to enter the store?
You can probably guess where this is going. But I’ll meander a little more.
Once, when I was in high school, my mother was in the process of doing something I had seen her do a thousand times. For the first time, it occurred to me that there was a more efficient way to do it. Please don’t ask me to remember what it was, that is lost to me, but not the principle I learned that day. When I explained to her a way that would save her time and effort, she looked at me and basically said that her way was the way her mother always did it and that she had always done it that way and that was good enough. And that may well have been the case. But in my teenagerly way, I told her that I would not be doing it her and her mother’s way. That didn’t go over all that well. There were more than a few, “Oh you think you’re so smarts” thrown into the ensuing, rather heated, soliloquy.
Ideally, my mother would have looked at my suggestion, considered how it might fit into her regimen and adopted it or discarded it based on its inherent worth or lack thereof. But she did not. She dismissed it out of hand as not being the way it was done. And that was the turning point for me.
Still, I fell into the same trap of the familiar that we all do. When Bernd and I were first married, I set up our kitchen in much the same manner of organization as my mother’s kitchen. It took quite a while before I found that it wasn’t really working for me. But eventually I began a process of moving things about, changing what was in which drawer and cabinet, until it was much more efficient; at least to my way of thinking.
We can be blindly devoted to a lot of different things; not just a way of doing something. We can be devoted to a particular world view, ideas about values (what is good and what is bad), morals (what is right and what is wrong), thoughts about how others should best be spending their time, a spouse who is mistreating us but that we just can’t seem to leave, what is and is not appropriate to eat for breakfast, and how others should treat us and we them. The list is endless.
The world and our situations are changing all the time. This has always been true, but is especially evident right now.
We can either change with it, adjust our viewpoint and throw out the blind devotion, or get left outside of the local 99 cent store while some passing stranger wonders about our state of mind.