Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why vs. Why not

I'm going to Spain and I don't know why.

Seriously. I'm on a plane pretty much smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic, directly above where the massive tectonic plates diverge, forming a new spreading sea floor (see, I was paying attention in geology 101), and I don't have a particularly solid reason.

Oh sure, there are plenty of good reasons. (because it'd be fun, to practice Spanish, etc) But none of them seemed especially compelling at first. Or at least I'm adept enough at talking myself out of things that these reasons could easily be dismantled and locked back up in the "someday" box where we keep all our crazy dreams. Usually when a good reason started sparking that hope to life, one good spray of "maybe later" would put it out.

But there was one nagging thought I couldn't push out of the way.

It was the question: "Why not?"

I halfheartedly tried to extinguish the question with the usual weapons: too much money, but that seemed like not much of an obstacle in the long term; I didn't have time and I had too much to do: even I laughed at those. I knew I didn't stand a chance. I was defenseless. It wasn't even a fair match.

(I think one of the reasons I couldn't even consider that rationalization is that I listen to people older (and wiser) than me. If they have traveled, they recommend it strongly because it was the best decision they could have made. If they didn't travel, there's almost always a tinge of regret and the words: I should have, you should while you're young and you have the chance. Just do it because it never gets any easier...So for anyone who's actually said those things to me: I actually take it to heart!)

So I'm not sure why I'm going to Spain; I just know that sometimes the question isn't why, it's why not. And somehow lots of things seem to fall into place when you think from that perspective.

I'm a teacher, which means I spend most of my time dishing out advice that later comes back to haunt me (or help me). Aside from being a teacher, I'm also an advisor to a hodgepodge bunch of students in what we call advisory groups (mine calls itself Avila's Awesome Advisory, because, well, we're awesome. :)

We have a poster in our advisory room we've been using all year. No matter what subject we're on, we always find ourselves pointing to it and reading it. It says, more or less,

Watch your thoughts
They become your words
Watch your words
They become your actions
Watch your actions
They become your habits
Watch your habits
They become your character
Watch your character
It becomes your destiny

Our talking point is that problems usually arise at the action stage, and it's important to catch them before they turn into habits. But by then there's already a lot of momentum. At that point the idea is out there manifested fully, causing conflict and tension in the open. What would make the real difference is if you can guide/alter/ train your thoughts before they go anywhere else. They are small then, but they are dangerous for what they can become.

Where I come in as their teacher is usually to say "words do matter"...."watch your words." Because if you think something, and then say it, you're speaking some idea into existence. When I hear the students utter phrases like, "shut up or I'll beat you." or "gosh this sucks I'm going to kill myself," they don't think it's a big deal. No harm done.
And yet I point out to them that they very quickly and comfortably are doing the first 2 things, and the very next step is action. There's very little safety net between words and actions, even if it seems like a big leap.

So as I sit here squished in this middle seat during my half-baked plan to traverse across the world, I'm thinking about that poster. And I believe the "thought sequence" can work in the positive too.

You just have to be so careful. Because it started a month ago with a fleeting, cavelier whim to go to Spain. It wouldn't go away. And then I mentioned the idea to someone, putting it into words, and then to a few more people. And by then it was too late. "Why not" was already on its way with reinforcements, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Quick- what's the first crazy dream of yours that comes to mind? Maybe start on the medium scale. Not a life dream perhaps, but an out-there hope for 2013. Something you have serious doubts that you could actually accomplish it. You don't think you would actually do it.

Got one?

Now go ahead and ask yourself:

Why not???

(For the truly daring, put the idea into words and leave in a comment below!)


  1. why or why not rescue a puppy... from a random woman in the mall... (I made a true "heart" decision) ...and then give her away to a woman who was grieving the loss of her dog a month before.. (another "heart" decision) .... to hear the words, "you just made my year!!" One rescued dog = one joyous woman. Getting to be a "joy catalyst" ended my year on a high note. Keep following your heart to the next adventure :)

  2. You are so brave! Algunos deberíamos seguir tu ejemplo.

    Welcome to Spain!