So, do you want to do an experiment with me?
Let’s measure your frustration level on a scale of 1 to 10.
How did you do? (Just keep that number in mind, we’ll come back to it.)
I experienced an epiphany the other day and it has to do with epochal moments.
The word epochal means a point marking the start of a new period in time. Examples in history are the founding of Rome, the birth of Christ, the freeing of slaves in America, the splitting of the atom, signed treaties and more recently, the terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York City. All of these events marked a significant, monumental change.
More personal examples would be the coming of age for a young man or woman, traumatic injuries, marriage, having children and death of a spouse or child.
These are moments that change everything in your life.
The times when nothing of your former life is recognisable.
The idea is like that of a renovation. In our society today, renovations are quite popular; the “makeover”, “redo” or “update”.
I love makeovers. Taking something that is well past it’s use-by date and freshening it up, giving it a new modern look.
The makeover I did a few years back (pictured above), was only a cosmetic makeover. We sold our beautiful home in order to concentrate on and be close to our business. So, we decided that we would turn a 20 year old ablution block in an abandoned building into a little apartment. Let me tell you, about some of the frustrations I encountered. 1. There was no running hot water. Picture it, bathing was done out of a bucket with water boiled in the jug (a NZ term for an electric kettle). 2. There were only about 3 electrical plugs that worked properly. So, I lived dangerously plugging everything I owned into electrical strips. I often wondered if I was going to burn the place down. 3. My make-shift closet leaked. 4. The bathroom sink was knee operated instead of hand operated.
The apartment was functional to a degree but not a proper home. The change was no epochal.
In order for the apartment to function as a proper home, the renovations needed to be much more in depth than they were. We needed to rip everything out to the bare bones and replace the wiring, install proper plumbing, replace and restructure the walls. But we didn’t. In our minds, we only planned to stay there short-term. We ended up living there for 3 years. By the time we moved, we were completely over those living conditions. There is no way we ever want to live like that again. I can not describe how frustrating it was at times – even though we calculated the cost of the decision, attempted to keep a good attitude and were learning a lot about ourselves at the time.
Let’s get back to that measure of our frustration level.
The epiphany that I had the other day is this: I am most relaxed, less frustrated, when I have approached the epochal decisions I have made in my life in the right way. I am most frustrated when I try to live between two moments (events) in time that have nothing to do with each other or that conflict with each other.
The idea of epochal change is that the old has to be completely done away with (ended) and completely renovated.
This is why New Year’s resolutions or diets don’t always work. We try to make changes that are not truly fitting with our lifestyle or value systems. When I have dieted unsuccessfully, I changed my eating behaviours for a short time but then went back to my old eating patterns. For the weight to stay off, I need to change more than just what I put in my mouth.
Not every decision I make is epochal. I change my hair all of the time! Long then short and back to long then back to short. I even dyed my dark brown hair blonde one year–big mistake. My frustration level on these types of decisions is almost nothing because I don’t mind back and forth result.
Having children was an epochal decision in my life. Do you know how different life becomes once you have children? Everything changes. I had to reconstruct or renovate everything about my life from what I said to how I did everything.
My children repeated a lot of my conversations at the most inappropriate times. It was embarrassing and frustrating. I learned quickly that if I wanted to prevent the embarrassment and lower my frustration (with them and myself) I needed to change what I discussed in front of them and many times I had to change the way I thought about and talked about everything.
I had to change my sleep patterns, my schedule, and my alone time because my time was not my own anymore.
Attempting to hold onto my “no-children” life was not going to work. Living as if children were not going to change my life only heightened my frustration level because that life did not exist any longer. Dee life was going to be totally different post children otherwise, both lifestyles suffered greatly.
Do you see what I am getting at here?
A married man must reconstruct his single lifestyle because single-man and married-man do not mix very well AT ALL. In fact, the two will rip each other apart.
A young person stepping into adulthood requires a completely new approach. Depending on his/her parents to rescue him/her from his adult decisions doesn’t work.
A vibrant, healthy person whose life is drastically changed by trauma must relearn to function in life with the disabilities that resulted. There are some truly inspiring examples of people who have overcome the limitations of disabilities.
Life after loss, spiritual conversions, offering forgiveness…all of these are epochal moments/events and the before and after are diametrically opposed. Once the decision is made or the event occurs, trying to go back to the old way of thinking or doing things limits the potential for happiness and success.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 22″No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” ~Mark
This explains a wise approach to epochal decisions. Unless you want to destroy both the new and the old, new wine must be placed into new wine skins (or bottles) and life has to be renovated to accommodate those epochal moments.
When we do renovate, we decrease our level of frustration.
So, are you trying to live your old life after an epochal moment?
Do you want less frustration?
Can you make necessary changes in your life?
Is it time for “old things to pass away and all things become new”?
It takes time but I believe you and I can make the renovations in our lives that will produce a better way of living.