Opportunity of Change

As cozy creatures of habit, we duvet-cuddling, den-dwelling humans have a natural resistance to change.

As cozy creatures of habit, we duvet-cuddling, den-dwelling humans have a natural resistance to change.

Most of us like to think of ourselves as adventure-seeking rebels able to throw off all shackles and plunge naked into the vast unknown, fearless and invulnerable. But the truth is, we covet our routine, our comforts, our predictability.

Give me a rainy day, my favourite slippers, and the opportunity to cuddle on the couch in front of the TV with my wife and daughter, and I am in bliss. Making that leap, doing something different, even taking a stand, all require that we move out of our comfort zone.

Some are better at this than others.

I received an email from friends the other day. They are a fortysomething couple who through work obligations have ended up in St. Albert for more years than they originally planned. The email contained a photo of them standing in their driveway, armed with shovels and surrounded by high banks of snow. They were barely recognizable beneath layers of heavy clothing. Neither one of them was smiling.

I didn’t have the heart to write back and say I saw the first cherry blossoms beginning to shuck off their protective shells and flower on my morning walk into work.

They often tell my wife and I that not everyone can just pack up and head west, hoping that life will still treat them kindly when they arrive in paradise.

They’re right — mostly because it can be utterly terrifying. But if you don’t change, if you don’t take chances, then life doesn’t have the opportunity to show you what you’re missing.

We also tend to be creatures whose natural instinct for survival makes our fearful thoughts leap straight to the worst-case scenario and the unfairness of change. It takes us longer to stop for a moment and ponder the positive possibilities.

Due to space restrictions and a foreshadowing of the upcoming budget in a difficult economic time, popular comic strip Doonesbury was dropped from our pages last week. Naturally, I received several angry emails and phone calls from the strip’s longtime fans. The majority of the complaints immediately resorted to concrete ultimatums of the “bring back Doonesbury or I’ll never read Monday again” variety. Really? That’s all we mean to you?

Only one person bothered to ask why we are in the process of dropping it. And when I explained that in a tough year of budget cuts and difficult decisions, I would rather use that syndication fee to keep a local staff member employed, they accepted that I wasn’t entirely a callous jerk without affection for history.

However, what I want to see come forward are the positive thinkers. Where is the leader to arrange Doonesbury fan meet-ups at the library where everyone can read that week’s strips online for free, and then go for coffee together and discuss what the issue of the day means to them? Here is common ground and a golden opportunity to break out of that comfort zone and make new friends.

If that’s too scary, I’ve also put out the call for a White Knight advertiser to step forward and proclaim their support for the strip. What better way to gain immediate goodwill among Monday’s loyal readers than to be the company that sponsors the continuing adventures of Zonker and co?

Our lines are open.

Song stuck in my head

“Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons.

If I was to select one album as my favourite release of 2010, it would have to be Mumford & Sons debut, Sigh No More. It’s an infectious mix of celtic, folk, blues and storytelling that makes one feel alive and wanting to sing along. Inspiring. M

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