Now that I have a functioning MP3 player, I’ve started listening to podcasts in my car on the way to work. I usually go to the iTunes podcast directory and look at what’s popular or download some NPR (National Public Radio) since they evidently have 621 podcasts available. I was listening to an episode of This American Life recently called Nobody’s Family is Going to Change. This American Life is an hour long show that presents a variety of stories on a common theme, usually true-life stories of ordinary people. This episode’s theme was about whether people can change. After listening to the show, I would say yes and no. People certainly have the ability to change, but more frequently people just stay the same.
As my MP3 player skipped to the next track, I realized that one of the appeals of weight-loss blogs like this one is the idea that people can change. You might be fat now, but you could get thinner. You might be in debt today, but you can pay off your bills. You might be “you” today but you could upgrade to “you 2.0” tomorrow. It does happen. You can’t force other people to change, but you can change yourself to a certain extent. I guess it’s like the old serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
It’s funny that I came to this revelation while listening to NPR. For the longest time I wished I was the type of person who listened to NPR in the car, but in reality I was the type of person to listen to the same CD’s over and over again. I only listen to NPR now because it’s really easy to get the podcasts. In the same way, I used to keep lots of books on my shelves that I wanted to read. The problem was, I didn’t actually want to read them, I just wanted to be the type of person who read those books. Or I was hoping I could purchase the knowledge within those books without taking the time to read them because it takes me F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to read a book.
In the past couple years I’ve culled a lot of my possessions, partly because only so much stuff will fit in a one-bedroom apartment, and partly because I’ve decided those books belonged to a person I wanted to be and not the person I am. I am not the kind of person who was going to read those books, so it was time to get them out of the apartment. If I ever do become the kind of person who is going to read those books, I can buy them at the bookstore again. Until then, I need the shelf space.
I’m definitely capable of change. I’ve lost a lot of weight and I now know who Ira Glass is. But there are other qualities about me that have not changed, probably will never change, and I honestly have no desire to change. I doubt I’ll ever be the kind of person who isn’t annoyed by the phrase, “I could care less.” You could care less? Then you must care a little. Is that really what you meant to say? It’s inspiring to know that I don’t always have to be the same, but it’s empowering to accept the parts of myself I don’t want to change or might not be able to change.
And as much as I love This American Life and was excited to hear about their live broadcast in movie theatres across America on Thursday, May 1, I was not excited to learn that it cost twenty bucks. I guess I’ll always be a skinflint. That will never change.