It’s said that nothing worth doing is easy. I don’t think that’s exactly true, but it’s true that real change is usually hard. If you haven’t despaired at the seeming impossibility or lack of progress, you haven’t tried to change the root of who you are. Some people aren’t pushed into that, because who they are is serving them well. And some of us, for whatever reason, have a home base in a bad place. The popular song “Breathe (2 AM)” speaks to this experience, both from inside and extending a hand:
“2 AM and she calls me ’cause I’m still awake
Can you help me unravel my latest mistake?
I don’t love him, winter just wasn’t my season
Yeah, we walk through the doors, so accusing, their eyes
Like they have any right at all to criticize
Hypocrites, you’re all here for the very same reason
‘Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable
And life’s like an hourglass glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl
So cradle your head in your hands
I remember, coming out of the lowest point in my life, around 2014, hearing this song on the car radio. I was in that place, “as far in as I would ever be out.” I had made the same mistakes over and over and didn’t see a way to change. But when I heard “life’s like an hourglass glued to the table,” I thought, “flip the table.” (The process that led me to that thought had to do with superhero therapy and my emphasis on hope in general.)
In other words, yes, the problem is monumental. We are on a track. The despair is for good reason. And there also is a possibility of pulling out all the stops, thinking outside the box, bending the rules, and doing the impossible. Those words were very special to me all the long, long way out of despair.
What does “flipping the table” mean in practical terms?
Upend the status quo.
You can’t change things without making big changes.
Be willing to let other things suddenly end.
(One other thing about this story… I had to hear where I was mirrored before I could move past it. So, my apologies to Anna Nalick for how absurdly contrary I’ve been about her song over the years — “No! I can find the rewind button!” The sentiment she wrote is a really important one. And no amount of “you can do it!” would have gotten to me without that sentiment. It just so happened that I needed something to be contrary about to change.)