Sunday, November 30, 2008

Δ - Brindle, Snow and Energy Levels

I'll confess to a rather cynical view of one's ability to change. It's not that I don't believe in our inherent capability or even our desire to be better or happier, more faithful or less wasteful. But having spent years watching people gain the weight back, revert to bad habits and struggle against ingrained impulses, when someone mentions they have a plan in mind for a serious switch, my eyebrow quirks.

It was with joyful surprise that I praised Chienne this afternoon when she appeared at the opposite door to the bathroom. I'd gone in and closed one door as she moved toward it. Without hesitation, I heard her trot toward the stairs, move over the landing and, tags jingling and tail wagging, she came through the opposite, open door. "How smart are you?!" I cried, applauding heartily before bending to give kisses and pets. We celebrated for a moment before trying again and though I'm reasonably sure I heard her sigh as the door closed, she obediently trotted around again. I giggled and clapped and told her she was positively brilliant. So it's not that I lack belief in or appreciation for a creature's ability to learn and understand a novel concept. But given an open door nearest to her, Chienne is coming through it. It's only when that opening is closed and options are lacking that she'll go the long way, despite knowing how ridiculously happy it makes me.

I think of us a bit like electrons orbiting our given nucleus. We're very busy, of course, and quite good at our jobs. (Well, you all are obviously awesome. So let's say I'm OK and you cover for me sometimes.) Given appropriate motivation, I'll hop up an energy level and feel all special for doing so. Perhaps I will preen in my longer trip around the nucleus. I might look back at my former cohort and snort with disdain. But, sooner or later, I'm getting tired. And if the system isn't continually perturbed - if something isn't putting more and more energy into keeping me up there - I'm falling back down, settling into my natural spot with a sigh of relief (and an emission of radiation!). And if the other electrons look at me with smug satisfaction? Well, screw them, I'll think, waving my electron arms and kicking my electron feet with futile irritation. "You would have fallen back too," I'd mutter with a glare. "It's hard to stay up there! And those electrons in the outer shells? I think they'd come down here if we weren't taking all the good spots." Laziness justified and disappointment in myself hidden, I'd orbit as I always had, for that's what I know how to do.

There are obvious changes - I found time to snap pictures early in a snow storm and again after a few hours. It's lovely - the glistening, white fluff. I'll go scrape the sidewalks with my new shovel before bed. My argument is the sustainability of such changes. Snow melts when the temperature sneaks above a certain point, I'll think as I shiver and shovel. It gets muddy as tires and boots travel over it and will drift as the wind blows. Regardless of a flake's desire to buck a trend, it's pretty powerless against laws of nature.

Even while acknowledging disappointment in my failure to rise above hated habits, I retain some tiny glimmer of hope for others. So if you happen to be an electron above your energy level - or are eyeing that longer orbit with plans to make a leap - picture me sending you enough energy to keep you up there a bit longer, with many good wishes for the future. And, if you have a good story about sustainable change? Please advise. I'll just be napping over here in my ground state.


Alethea said...

No advice. I do sort of agree, we do tend back to our "nature" - but I can give you the example of my mother, who like myself was of an addictable nature, but managed to become a complete teetotaller for a good fifteen years after recognizing she had been an alcoholic, and also managed to quit smoking (after a 50-a-day habit for some 45 years) for the last year before she did die of lung cancer. I can't think of much that would be harder than that (not to mention futile, but I think they wouldn't treat her otherwise).

When it's really important, it is possible to change. It depends on how much you want it.

T said...

Love the electron analogy!

Psych Post Doc said...

No good stories here. Just wanted to say that I love the pictures and how happy I am that we haven't seen snow yet. :)

H said...

Some electrons pop out of their orbit entirely and start a cascade or wonderful reactions that transfer energy usefully to many molecules.

I'm rooting for photon excitation here.

Go Photosystems! Redox may be in your future!

TitleTroubles said...

If nothing else, at least two of you remain reliably geeky in your native states...

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