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Going in the Wrong Direction

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I’m switching web hosts, and nothing is working.

The problem is that I’ve changed the domain registrar, the people who make sure this web site is in the global internet address book, together with my web host. Unfortunately, the address change hasn’t spread to the rest of the internet.

So whenever someone types into the browser, they’re being directed to my old web host instead of my new web host.

It’s a very minor thing. Just a little switch of direction. And yet, it make everything I do flawed.

If I change my new site, none of those changes are visible. They don’t reach beyond the single computer in some big server hall. But if I change my old site, all of those changes are going to disappear as soon as the problem is fixed, so that’s pretty pointless.

Summary: tech go bad, Filip mad.

But that’s not what I’m going to talk about here. No, what I want to talk about is how easy it is to change direction.

A single pointer and the entire internet changes direction to my new server.

I can change the pointer however many times I wish. And those changes will propagate in time to everything that I do online, every mail that comes to me, every blog post that I write.

This is a good thing, because just like a name server, we get the chance to change direction every second of our life, in everything we do.

Here’s another example: I usually record these blog posts for later transcription as I walk in the morning. But this morning I couldn’t.

The reason is that I’m changing the type of pants that I wear.

For years I’ve been wearing different styles of cargo pants with big side pockets on the legs. In one leg pocket, I’d carry my phone. In the other leg pocket, I’d have my paper notebook and a pen. I’ve carried them around with me everywhere I went since forever, 20 years or more. But as I’m growing older, my wife keep reminding me that my juvenile dreams of becoming an Airborne Ranger are becoming somewhat unrealistic, and I should look the part of successful, middle-aged sarariman. So, instead of buying my regular cargo pants, I bought a pair of plain old chinos.

No leg pockets.

Which means that I have to carry my phone in my regular pocket, which squashes sensitive parts of my body whenever I sit down. Or I have to put my phone somewhere in the house and remember to bring it with me whenever I go out.

Which I don’t.

A tiny switch in perception and self-identity of no longer being 18 years old led to a slightly larger switch in outward identity in the type of pants that I wore, which led to a very large switch in how I relate to the technology I use for my work and my writing, which led to me not being able to record a blog post this morning.

Tiny changes cascading throughout my entire life. That’s what going in the wrong direction means.

Just a tiny change, and everything cascades.

And that’s good. Really, really good.

Because it works in the opposite direction as well. A tiny positive change will cascade throughout your entire life. A slight change in your breakfast habits, maybe you take whole grain, instead of plain white, or you eat one scoop of muesli less, and over time it reduced your weight, lowers your cholesterol level, make you healthier, and make you live longer,

Tiny changes over time and you can make them anytime you want.

You don’t need any special skills to change direction. You don’t need persistence, or willpower. All you need is to do it once.

And then you’ll fail, of course.

I mean I still wear my cargo pants, I’ve got several of them. But over time, as I buy more and more chinos, and less and less cargo pants, I’ll get used to them more. My entire life will change into becoming a person who carries his phone in his jacket pocket, or who remembers to bring it along.

Or something entirely different. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up ditching my phone and just getting a phone bracelet or something. I can’t tell.

That’s one of the reasons we don’t change, because we can’t see the end results. We can’t predict them, because the future is notoriously hard to predict. Things change, our life changes. Everything we do is part of a very complex, interconnected system. We can’t see all the relationships, all the threads that we pull on with our choices.

And that’s all right. That’s the reason why small changes can propagate, why one less muffin for breakfast will make you live two years longer.

Because it changes other parts of the system, parts you can’t even concieve off right now. It changes you, and how you make decisions. It’s the single step starting the journey of a thousand miles.

Small changes.

A single switch in a single direction.

That’s all it takes.

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