My wife shouts from the living room, “What did you just do?”
“You know what I did,” I shout back.
“Did you knock the plant off the shelf?”
“That’s the third time today.”
“Have you been counting?”
“Maybe if the plant wasn’t there?”
“Maybe if you watched where you are going?”
“Do I need to stay on high alert just to walk around?”
She never answered the question but obviously I do.
My wife likes to put things where they should not go. I am not sure why she does that. Maybe she likes watching me bump into them. In this case she placed a plastic broad-leaf plant on a shelf where two halls intersect. It is a place where I naturally swing wide.
She never hits it. I never miss it.
When you become familiar with a place, your mind maps where everything is and your body follows it. This biological navigation system is called kinesthesia; the sixth sense that guides your foot to the brake pedal without even thinking. It’s what frees your mind to focus on something other than banging into stuff. But not in my house.
My wife constantly scrambles my NAV system by buying new things for the house. We will be out driving and she will spot a little shop with a silly name.
“The Purple Pumpernickel!”
“I want to go in there.”
I’ll give her ‘the look’.
“I won’t buy anything,” she’ll promise.
“Yes, you will,” I’ll say.
“Oh look,” she’ll say, “a bench in the shade. Why don’t you read while I have a quick look around?”
She knows me too well. A third of a novel later, there she will be standing in front of me, smelling of scented candles and potpourri.
“Look what I found,” she’ll say, “Isn’t it perfect for the hallway?”
Oh joy, now I have another thing to steer around. Another frame to knock off the wall. Another addition to THE PILE when another shopping trip finds a more perfect thing.
It is not that I am resistant to change. It is just that I enjoy the comforts of not changing more. Some say, they are the same thing but they are not. If something promises greater comfort, I will embrace it enthusiastically – but it must prove itself first.
A fuddy-duddy is someone who clings to things even when they no longer work. A hipster is someone who tosses out what works in the wild pursuit of fashion. We are neither – but we have dangerous tendencies in both directions.
So later that night, I decide a change is in order.
“What did you just do?” I ask.
“You know what I did.”
“I tripped over YOUR SHOES!”
Maybe I shouldn’t have left them in the middle of the hall – but then again, maybe…