One of the first things I learned in physics is the law of inertia – that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and that a body at rest takes more work to get going than that same body when it is already moving.
Don’t ask me the details. I don’t remember them. But I remember that part, and as I have grown older, I have come to know that it does not just apply to bodies and things, but to minds and hearts as well. I don’t have to look farther than my own life to see this law at work.
I took three days off this past week. Off from everything I know. I left little West Pawlet, Vermont and flew to Orlando via Atlanta, with jam-packed planes and bustling airports. I didn’t write. Not a thing. I didn’t prepare and do a sermon, which is a big part of my week every week. I didn’t meet with clients. I didn’t do any of things I normally do.
It was a good trip, if a bit claustrophobic. My son and I traveled to visit the college he was accepted to for admission next year. Saturday and Monday we traveled. Sunday we toured the school with bus loads of other kids and parents, going through the impressive facilities at Full Sail University, a school dedicated to building professionals in entertainment business and technology. When that was done, we wandered to The Florida Mall. I never go to malls, partially by inclination and partially because there are no malls close to my little village in Vermont.
Often, when I do a road trip, I go to cities like Orlando, New York City or Washington, DC. I like their energy. I like the flow of so many different races and languages and cultures. But I generally discipline myself to write and photograph and find still places for my head and heart to find peace. This trip, though, I didn’t. I just let the energy and people flow over me. I wanted to let it all saturate me and fill me without brakes, without inhibitions.
And it was good. (I think I said that already). I soaked up the heat. I soaked up the flora, so different than our own in Vermont. I soaked up the voices, the different kinds of beauty and people. I filled myself with facts about a very different kind of university experience. My head and heart were spinning, in a good way, when we landed back in Albany last night and drove home.
But man, was it hard to get started again this morning, to dive into the work that had to be done, some of which was left undone by my traveling. Waking up this morning was easy enough, but buckling down and starting the work was like rolling a ten ton boulder up a mountain.
I always have to do a reality check when I have a hard time getting going. I have to make sure it’s not my depression raising it’s paralyzing head and slowing me down. If it is, then I have things to do to get me going despite my brain’s lies. But this was nothing like that. My depression was happily sleeping this morning and leaving me alone. No, this was just a lack of inertia. I simply had to get that stone rolling again. And so I just plowed into it, getting it rolling slowly until it took on a life of its own.
That is the way it is with most things. I often offer my coaching clients a few free sessions because it takes a few weeks to get the ball moving and I don’t want them to become discouraged at my hourly fee. A few weeks and they know whether we are a good fit, and they start to see movement, the potential and the change. Similarly, I never offer quick fixes to my consulting clients or my parishioners with spiritual journeys to make.
You have to get the ball rolling, and it’s hard at first.
The good news is that it gets easier. And the longer you are with it, the easier it gets.
Years ago, when I was fighting to rekindle own creative and professional life after a few years of abject blackness and depression, it was painfully hard. I thought it would never happen. I thought I’d never get it back. I was sure of it (OK, my lying depressed brain was sure of it, but he was very convincing.). Still I kept at it. Faith? Maybe. Fear? Maybe. Just didn’t have any better solution? More likely. Whatever the reason, I kept at it. And that big black boulder began to move. And slowly, it all took on a life of its own again.
Today, I can take time off and get going again fairly easily. Yes, it’s still work, but having done it so many times, I don’t begin believing I can’t. I come believing I can and will. I know how long it will take to get rolling again, and I know once it does, the good stuff will come. It always does.
Persistence has power. That’s what I have learned. More power than talent or skill. Inertia lives in our hearts and our hopes as well as our bodies. And it’s a law. It is a truth.
So if you are wanting a change. Keep at it. Physics doesn’t lie. Inertia eventually takes hold, and heaven help anything that tries to get in your way once it gets going.
Be well. Travel Wisely,