Change is difficult and life is constantly changing. So it stands to reason that life is going to be hard. As a general rule, most people don’t like it when life is hard. We go to great lengths to avoid the things we don’t like, ignoring logic and rationality, sometimes choosing the downright crazy. Nothing drives this point home more than the story of William J. Gallagher.
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”Confucius
William was a convicted felon. He spent 20 years in a New Jersey penitentiary for attempted murder. 7,300 nights passed and the big day finally arrived, the day every prisoner dreams of… the day you get to go home. His sentenced served, the 68-year-old felon, William J. Gallagher, was released from prison.
But change is hard. And certainly after growing accustomed to his life behind bars, William found his newfound freedom difficult. So much so that he decided there was no place he’d rather be than back in a penitentiary. So he concocted a plan to return to his familiar life.
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”Jim Rohn
He heard the prisons in Wisconsin were the very best in America, the best food, the best commissary. So he took a train, and then another, until he found himself in Wisconsin. There, he proceeded to the nearest Chase Bank and he robbed it.
He wasn’t short on money. No, the bank robbery was William’s ticket back to the life he once had. When William entered the bank he went to the teller and introduced himself. He then asked her to give him all the hundred dollar bills she had in the drawer. With that accomplished, William told the teller to call the police. He went and sat down and waited. When the police arrived they found William still sitting, waiting politely for them so they could arrest him and bring him back to prison.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”C.S. Lewis
On the surface it sounds crazy. Who would go out of their way to intentionally go back to prison, choose to give up their freedom? But change is hard and William found it more appealing to go back to his familiar life behind bars, than he found the prospects of living as a free man. That required change, and change is difficult.
We may not necessarily choose to go to prison, but we all have parts of life we go back to, even though they aren’t the best places to be. We know we’d be better off changing, but we just can’t seem to do it. Change is hard.
We spend more money than we make, jeopardizing our future, because living within our means would mean forgoing a new television or a new car. Addicts return to the prison of their drug addictions, regardless of the dangers to their health and the destruction of their relationships. We want to live differently, but change is really hard.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”George Eliot
William chose a life he knew, a life in prison, rather than endure the challenges that change requires. We do the same. Perhaps we would all be better off if we learned the art of navigating change so that we would be more equipped to handle this thing called life.
Change is the constant of life. Learn to embrace it, see the opportunity in it, find the adventure in the unknown. It will free you from your prisons, and open doors you could have never imagined.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”Maya Angelou