Monday, March 17, 2014

old dogs; new tricks

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." I have found this line on my lips more than once in the last few months, spoken to a five-year-old who emphatically insists on his explanation of how things work. I don't know if he grasps what I am saying because the conversation usually takes a sudden turn to identity of Horatio and then Hamlet, and then a reminder that his stuffed tiger is named Horatio.

But the words keep coming to mind. And I suppose they rise to mind as much for me as for him. My Alexander Technique instructor lately has used the word plastique in our work, referring to the neuroplasticity of the brain, its ability to make new pathways in response to changes in behavior or environment. I don't want to think about neuroplasticity, however. I just want it to happen in some quiet way. So that one day I notice things have changed and I can say, Ah! My brain is still so malleable, and then, pleased, go about my day. (I can't imagine myself using the word plastique without sounding ridiculous.)

Which actually happened recently. I was sitting with a friend at lunch and was describing our plans to move to Portland and realized how smoothly things were going. Not with the trip itself, per se, but with us. Charles and I have hardly argued about anything, our ideas about homes and schools and jobs and neighborhoods not so much aligning as forming a conversation in which we know and accept our parts. Yes, I did wake up in the middle of the night worried we hadn't applied to enough schools—and feverishly applied to two more the next morning. And yes, Charles did think I was worrying too much, yet mostly kept a respectful distance. And yes, I did get snappish about some of the neighborhoods where Charles wanted to investigate homes. And I all but stopped listening to the discussions of mortgages, insurance, and property taxes—but not before grasping the outlines of the situation. I cannot be expected to understand all the financial maneuvers, but I have learned that I must continue to ask questions until I can translate the finance-speak into something I understand. Which is to say on the whole things have gone well. Which is to say I have changed—new paths can be learned. Nobody is claiming that it was easy or anything.

So what I'm telling myself is: yes. Old dogs, new tricks. On to the next challenge: my health. I hope to be more systematic and optimistic this time through. I bought a neon, hard-bound, pocket-sized journal with three words on the cover: find your happy. I know, sappy. But it will come in useful as I attempt to make some more changes.

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