"To fall asleep like a bird. To have a wing you could stick your head under, a world of branches suspended above the earthly world, barely glimpsed down below, muffled and remote. Once you begin rejecting your present state, there is no knowing where you can arrive."– Italo Calvino, Marcovaldo
Poor Marcovaldo, all he wants is a good night's sleep on a park bench to escape his hot, crowded apartment. "He would dream of the park bench as a vagabond dreams of a palace"..."to compensate for the insults of the day." In this misadventure, as in all his misadventures, he is tormented by outside forces, in this case the blinking of a traffic light. A traffic light that continues "throbbing with a false vitality, but actually weary and enslaved." Eventually Marcovaldo falls asleep only to be awakened by something else when finally, inevitably, he has to get up and go to work.
In many ways Marcovaldo expresses the frustrations of some of our clients. Often our clients mention to us their frustrations at work, in their career, their relationships, and even in their day to day activities. Everything at times seems to be critical, pushed to extremes. It sometimes seems that their 'normal', uneventful days are becoming more and more rare. They go through life like Marcovaldo and the traffic light, "throbbing with a false vitality, but actually weary and enslaved."
Of course weary and enslaved is no way to go through life and it does not have to be. "Once you begin rejecting your present state, there is no knowing where you can arrive." We can be riled and upset by our present state, but to effectively reject that state calls for us to act. Action often precedes understanding, so we are called to become actors within our own lives, rejecting our present state.
These actions do not have to be grand at first, but they should be decisive. For example, we are reminded of someone who felt powerless in their life, in almost every aspect of their life. We encouraged them to begin asserting themselves in their life, to act and not be acted upon. Initially they started slowly, the first was to suggest a different time to meet with a friend for lunch, a time that didn't interfere with either person's schedule. When the new time was suggested, the lunch partner simply agreed. This simple action asserted the person as an actor into their own life, and incidentally gave an extra half hour to the morning where other tasks could be accomplished. From that point, they were able to make other decisions and take actions that rejected their present state for a somewhat better one.
In our own life, our career, relationships, even decisions about what to wear or what to eat, we can reject our current state and embrace the new attitudes, responses, even adventures that are ours to experience. We must continually reject our current state for continual improvement, for growth and learning. This continual rejection does not mean we are advocating for revolutionary change, although sometimes that may be valuable. We encourage introducing something new into our current state, some current improvement, some new experience or learning in order to avoid a 'false vitality' and a 'weary enslavement'. If we continue to accept our current state, we become the one who is enslaved as well as the one who enslaves. We have free will to choose to move forward beyond our current state, to reject things as they are and to create our own lives in our own fashion.
As we stated earlier, these improvements do not have to be monumental. We all want to be healthier but often we feel we do not know how to live a healthier lifestyle. We get where we are one day at a time, so let us get better one day, one improvement at a time. For example, if we know we need to exercise more, there is no need to attempt to run a marathon. However, we can take the stairs at work, take a walk during lunch, park further away in the parking lot to walk a bit more. None of these things are going to put us on the cover of a magazine, but that is not the point. The point is that we made a decision to reject our current state and make a change. Once that happens, "there is no knowing where you can arrive."