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thoughts on change

 So, I am sitting here in the waiting area while I wait for the mechanics to finish changing the oil in my car. That’s right. I’m paying good money for scheduled change. I have thought about driving my car without an oil change for as long as driving my car without an oil change would work. I shelved that idea after experiencing a shredded tire on a highway part way between Omaha and Kansas City several years ago. Turns out that being stranded by yourself at night, on the side of the road, with a shredded (not flat) front tire, in nowhere Missouri truly does feel like a horror film.

That’s revealing, though, isn’t it? We are fine with scheduled maintenance, but not so crazy about change. Why? Because scheduled maintenance is about control and it’s on our timetable. The very phrase means ‘we are planning things so that they stay the same’. Right? Maintenance is about staying the same.

At the oil change place, the guy next to me was just told that he has a broken cap on some part in his car. My mechanic could tell me that I have a punctured spleen just beneath the radiator and that my liver is leaking fluids and I’d nod and say, “Ok….can that wait or should I get that fixed today?”

And that’s the conversation that is bringing us all together here in this rather unattractive waiting room. Do I need to change something or can it wait? What will it cost me to leave that one thing the same? How many miles can I go without changing that one thing?

The sufi poet, Rumi, put it this way: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

But, that usually doesn’t go far enough. I may work on myself and I may try to change this or that, but unless I am sitting with a loved one who truly cares enough to tell me the truth, my changes won’t go far enough. I’ll be like the man at the counter who is currently arguing with the mechanic about the price of the parts needed to fix his very large, Chevy pick-up truck.

Ahh…the things you can learn in the waiting room of one of those oil change places. First, we want to schedule change, otherwise we’re only in to maintenance. Secondly, we want change to be cheap and convenient. Thirdly, can the pain of the change be over in, say, 30 minutes. Oil changes can teach us a few things. Oh, gotta go…looks like I get to talk to the nice looking clerk right after that mean looking Silverado guy. If I do this right, a polite word can change that poor clerk’s day….

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As a University director of study abroad in Central Texas, ideas and stories matter. These reflections are for pilgrims making progress.