The Current Value of an Old Tub

One of the challenges of massive, structural change—whether societal or personal—is the temptation to sweep away everything from the old order: the baby, the bathwater, and the tub itself. Caught up in the adrenalin necessary to push forward such upheaval, we sometimes minimize the value of everything and anything that came before in order to summon the nerve.


At times, the spectre of change is so scary that those engaged in it must work themselves into a lather rejecting everything about their prior lives.

Down with bathtubs! Who needs hygiene? If I smell that’s your problem—you’re trying to repress my natural expression of Who I Am. No more baths.


Free To Be You And Me.


I understand the impulse to start with a clean slate; it’s a lot easier to begin anew rather than find a way to incorporate valuable prior ways into a not-quite-formulated approach. Things that are known have track records that are easily criticized. But flaws, failures, and long running imperfections don’t make things automatically worth abandoning. You have flaws and failures, are you worth abandoning? No, of course not!


So, how do we summon the courage to alter our lives in order to create the existence we desire while retaining traditional elements that have nourished us, added value to our lives, and evoked our strengths? This is no small question, my friends. Oftentimes, it’s easier and less painful to draw a hard psychological or emotional line and pledge that, “everything will be different.” This utopian vision of what our future promises is simplistic and false. Simplistic, because no matter what direction we steer towards, there will always be complications and difficulties. False because utopia assumes no residual history—the presumption that the past won’t taint the present. When have you ever known this to be the case?


Now, back to that baby and the bathwater. As a Re-booter, I know all too well what it’s like to hate the life you’re leading and to feel absolutely desperate for change. This is an extreme position to find yourself in, and while I hope it never gets that bad for you, we all experience something on this continuum. The impulse is to run away, hide, and never look back—but this is a fantasy and one that really doesn’t serve our interests because our current existence has current value! There are elements that will serve us well should we carry them forward. And, if we were to admit it, gadding about smelling up the joint probably isn’t what we really want.


My point is this: while it’s all very exciting and necessary to see oneself as a revolutionary when contemplating big change, the utopian vision that generally accompanies such effort ignores the positives of what currently exists. The tub, the water, the social contract not to offend others—these all serve constructive purposes. It’s far less fun to deconstruct the bathroom so that you might soberly  re-use the lumber and plumbing than it is to set the whole thing on fire and dance wildly about, but what’s going to serve your long term interests better?


As you go about considering change in your own life, I suggest that you reflect upon those bits that most bother you and see if you might parse out some useful elements that might serve you well post-change. They are there; you can see them. Acknowledging their positive qualities may feel somewhat irksome to you right about now, but your feelings shouldn’t take precedence over good sense.


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