Yesterday was a momentous day in our household. After some two years in situ, last night we removed the stairgate from the top of the stairs. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, ‘Man, this woman leads a wildly exciting life if this is her definition of a momentous Saturday night.’
Of course you’d be mostly right. I am the mother of a small child, ergo ‘wild excitement’ does not really have much of a place in my life these days. Unless you count ill-advised episodes of excessive sugar intake by my toddler son. Which I don’t. That kind of wild excitement we can all live without.
But I digress. The stairgate. Even I didn’t expect the simple removal of said stair-gate to amount to anything particularly momentous. Which might explain why I didn’t get round to doing it before now, even though we haven’t really needed it in many months. (Of course laziness is another possible explanation but I could apply that to most failings in my life, which would in turn make it just a lazy excuse. Must break the cycle.)
That stairgate had literally become part of the furniture. Well, okay. It had actually started out as part of the furniture if we’re talking literally. What it had become was embedded in our mental maps of our home. It was something we stepped through and over, swung back and forth, without really ever noticing it was there.
Which is why it’s removal really did have a momentous impact. The first time I walked up the stairs after it had gone I nearly fell straight back down them when I got to the top and was confronted with……nothing. I kid you not. There was so much space it was shocking. It felt more like we’d knocked down a wall rather than merely removed a few wooden struts.
Now, a full day later, I’m still having to gingerly lean my hand on the wall as I step onto the landing, uncertain and untrusting of my perception. Sure, by tomorrow or the next day I’ll have forgotten all about it. I’ll be clattering carelessly up and down the stairs, with no need to stop and check myself. My mind will have eased back into step with this new physical reality.
But in the meantime living this minor household change and experiencing such a disproportionate shift in reaction has given me pause for thought. Firstly it’s made me think: ‘wow, cool. Feng shui in action – talk about an improved flow of energy in the house.’ Quickly followed by: ‘Gosh. Think of all the many minor impediments we place (or simply allow to remain) in our way mentally. Fixed beliefs that we accept unquestioningly, that we don’t even see anymore as they have become so much a part of our mental furniture. If removing such a minor physical barrier can have such a profound effect, imagine translating that benefit to a mental level.’
I guess change doesn’t have to be that dramatic to have a profound effect. The first step is recognizing the barriers that are tripping you up or slowing you down. They may once have been of benefit but perhaps have now outlived their use, just like our stairgate.
An example that occurs to me now, as I sit here typing this at 9 o’clock at night, is my fixed belief that as a ‘morning person’ I am only capable of writing first thing in the morning. This belief served me well for many years when it encouraged me to get up and at it but now, with a toddler in the house if I truly believe the only time I can ever write anything of any worth is first thing in the morning then I’d better give up writing entirely. Mornings are not my own anymore. It’s time to stop pretending that that’s about to change any time soon and instead I need to change my own attitude to time and reclaim my evenings for writing.
A minor adjustment. A little shuffle round of some old, hitherto unquestioned ideas. I’ll try living with it a while and see how it suits me. For now, it feels surprisingly good. Like (dare I say it?) my creative energy might even be flowing a little more freely.
Feng shui for the mind. You ought to try it some time.