Kirby: Even small changes tax the mind, soul
Published: March 12, 2012 09:55AM
Updated: March 12, 2012 09:55AM
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Robert Kirby, Tribune columnist

The world must really be going downhill. Here I am in the Sunday paper. I’m not sure if this qualifies as keeping the Sabbath day unholy, but it has to be close.

I didn’t see the move coming. My editor called last week with “some important news.” Figuring the next words out of her mouth would be something like “you’re fired,” I hung up on her.

She called back and said/yelled that I was only being moved. My normal Monday column would become a Sunday column. When I began to whine about it, she hung up on me.

Moving my column is more difficult than it sounds. It requires restructuring my entire week. I have to write on Monday for Wednesday, on Tuesday for Sunday, and on Thursday …

OK, it’s not that complicated. The truth is that I had become too comfortable. My normal routine had made me lazy(er). It was past time for another wrinkle.

Normal people don’t always handle change well. They like routine because then life becomes predictable. And if it’s predictable, it can be micromanaged. It’s a lie, though. Life isn’t intended to be lived in a set of ruts.

You’d think that people with extremely short attention spans such as mine would welcome change better. We rarely stick to one lane. We enjoy driving all over the road and even occasionally into the ditch. But even ditches can become ruts.

As a military brat, my life seemed like anything but a rut. We moved a lot, so often that I sometimes awakened in the morning and had to think about where I was.

By the time I was 19, I had lived in 21 homes in two hemispheres, three countries, five states and any number of parallel dimensions.

My formal education consisted of four elementary schools, three junior highs and three high schools. I was always the new kid. Skinny and bespectacled, I spent most of seventh grade with my underwear hooked over my shoulders.

Adulthood didn’t bring stability. I changed jobs/careers a lot. I’ve been a rat catcher, janitor, car washer, missionary, soldier, security guard, carpenter, cop, writer and a partridge in a pear tree for a summer I still remember fondly.

Marriage didn’t mean I settled down. Since then I’ve been fired, suspended, sued, shot at (and missed), stabbed, blown up, badly injured and operated on no fewer than a dozen times, all for stuff my wife says wouldn’t have happened were I even just a little bit smarter.

With all this time spent driving in the ditch, you might think I actually enjoy change in life. Not so much. It hurts a lot more than it used to.

It may be age, but there’s also the fact that a growing number of people have come to depend on me being somewhat stable — wife, daughters, grandkids, editor and even readers.

Still, none of us controls our life nearly as much as we like. That’s because it isn’t meant to be lived on cruise control. In addition to being inevitable, change is good. It’s what gets us to think and makes us more flexible.

And speaking from lots of experience, the less flexible you are, the more change hurts. See you next Sunday.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/notpatbagley.