Every night, for god knows how long, I went to bed on the left side of the bed. I had literally carved a trench in the foam mattress, sleeping in the same place over and over. Literally three quarters of my bed felt practically new. It’s not that I was opposed to the right side of the bed. Rather, the left side had become so familiar, so molded to my body, that I ended up going back to it over and over. And it really wasn’t more comfortable than the relatively unused side. In fact, because it was worn down and had lost the firm but cushy quality it once had, I would wake up feeling like I needed a chiropractic adjustment.
And when I stopped to think about this a couple months ago, I couldn’t help but notice an array of trenches — even some pretty deep valleys — in my life.
They were scattered everywhere. Dropping into the same coffee shop every day, visiting the same handful of websites, wearing the same style of clothes, and following the same roads to work each day.
All of these things that seemed to work so well for me in life also struck me as totally PREDICTABLE.
It dawned on me that I needed to let go—to reinvent—not because things were “wrong” or that life was dull (it wasn’t), but because I didn’t want my life to look like a pattern…at all. I wanted it to be expansive, free, and UNpredictable rather than limited and defined by my past choices, comfort zones, and predilections. Easier said than done.
How can I possibly deconstruct the very pattern that I created—that is reflective of my life and my actions?
Well sometimes the kick in the pants is right in front of you. In my case, literally living in the same house. For me, it was my sixth-grade grade daughter Naomi.
It was all so very nice and easy before she started middle school. Then everything changed. Overnight. Out with the pure sweetness, afternoon play dates, and over zealous use of emoticons in text messages. In with the middle school DRAMA, bitchy popular girls, Instagram, mascara, Luke who broke up with Isabelle (after only three days of dating the first weeks of middle school. Seriously?!), and the “you don’t know how it is Dad.”
But the truth is, I’m the only parent she has had since the age of five. Even if I can’t possibly be a mother to her, I needed to relate to my daughter on her terms. So I made a point to just start chatting with her at night. She joked about it at first, this chatting, but then gradually eased into it. Almost immediately, I realized that I had to listen and engage with her issues and stories differently than I might with my high school son. This was, and still is, unchartered waters for me.
Of course this will strike every woman as completely hilarious, and I can hear the resounding “duh,” but the truth is, most men have only experienced the female mind when they’re either too young and dumb to possibly understand it or when they’re older, and all they see is the mature female mind, which, with few exceptions, they still don’t understand.
Totally profound to see the young female mind in formation.
Imagine having started every book you’ve ever read from the middle and then, one day, going back and starting from the first chapter. How it all starts to make much better sense…well, sort of.
As we chatted in the evenings before bed and I learned oh so much about life as a sixth-grade grade girl, I began to comprehend the real opportunity for me to evolve as a human, to let go of some of my old, predictable thought patterns, even see life through another human’s eyes. And through this experience, I began to sense the broader pattern starting to fade.
Reinvention started to happen naturally and ripple out across my life. I’m now doing things differently: actively seeking new experiences, ideas, places, foods, and things I’ve never tried before. In turn, I’m beginning to feel less like a pattern and more like a dynamic human being—one who is more receptive than ever before to enjoy all that life has to offer. And yes, that means a new mattress as well.
Judah Schiller is the Founder of BayCycle, Inc. and the CEO/Founder of AIKO, a design and innovation agency focused on transforming the way people live, learn, and play. Launched on the heels of becoming the first person in history to ever ride a bike across the San Francisco Bay and the Hudson River, BayCycle is dedicated to building an aquatic frontier in biking for sport, recreation, health, and transportation. It’s mission is to enable the world’s five billion bikes for riding on the water. Judah lives in Mill Valley, CA with his three awesome kids and naturally loves being by the water. Learn more about Judah and BayCycle on Facebook and Twitter.