Spiritual Change: Tie Your Shoes Different
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Laozi
It was 1989 and I was just feeling ready for life to move forward for me, after a series of very challenging years. I asked an old friend named Bill while sharing thoughts on life and spiritual growth, “What do I need to do to begin the process of change in my life in a profound way?” Bill was one of the most trusted and supportive men in my life when I was beginning this process of spiritual development. He was a wise, gentle and loving person who made a great life for himself after a messy beginning. You could always count on “Old Bill” to offer a warm hug and caring advice. At this point in my life, I did not trust many people and took even less advice. Asking for help was not one of my strengths.
Bill looked at me seriously, in a straightforward tone, “Michael, you need to tie your shoes differently in the morning.” I looked at him strangely and perplexed. He usually offered good, practical advice but “What does tying shoes have to do with change and spiritual growth?”
“Tomorrow, when you are getting dressed in the morning, whichever shoe you usually tie first, tomorrow, tie the other one first. If you want to change your life, you need to do things differently. Start with how you tie your shoes as a reminder that today you are doing things differently. Then as the day goes on, change other things as well. If you always eat ham and Swiss on rye for lunch, tomorrow eat turkey and cheddar on wheat bread. If you always ride home from work the same way, tomorrow try a different route, even if this means it takes you five minutes longer to get home, do something different.”
And that was a beginning to spiritual development for me.
Change in general is hard.
When old patterns and programming are involved, change is feels almost insurmountable. It feels like the way we do things is the only way they can be done. We firmly believe in our minds that there is no other way to do what we do the way we have always done it. The funny part is that we never consider the fact the way we have done it has not worked! We find out we did what we did, because that is what we did, no other reason then it was how we did it, no logic, no evidence of success, rhyme or reason, the sole reason is: because.
Growth is about moving past old patterns and creating new positive ones, hopefully healthier ones. If a depressed person who is struggling with isolation and feeling alone spends Friday and Saturday Nights in their small apartment by themselves, not feeling depressed will be challenging. If an alcoholic’s route home from work every day passes the bar that they drink at, not drinking there will be hard. If someone who is always late for work wakes at the same time and follows the same schedule thinks they will magically be on time tomorrow, chances are they will end up feeling ashamed and embarrassed by showing up ate for their appointments one again. If think you can do the same things and get different results just because you want to, you may be walking down a garden path toward destruction. The question we have to ask ourselves when receiving guidance or trying to decide if we want to do something differently is simple; “If the bottom that got me where I am now is miserable, awful and disgusting, what is the next bottom for me if I am not willing to do something different?” If your answer gives you satisfaction that what you are doing is working, maybe you do not need guidance or support. If your answer is a rumbling in your belly, maybe it is time to try something different.
“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. Or you don’t.” Stephen King from The Stand
Start tomorrow with tying your shoes differently, and then let change be a supportive force in your life. We have to begin somewhere; shoes seem like an easy place to start. Tomorrow try tying your shoes in reverse and see what happens. Change is a process, not an event and it takes action, not just a decision. We know change is the only constant in life, might as well try to facilitate positive change and enjoy the benefits!
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