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Appreciating slow, constant change


This is from the script of a little remembered, non-critically acclaimed 2001 movie (47% on Rotten Tomatoes, 7.5 out of 10 on IMDb) called Life as a House. Nevertheless, it heavily impacted my then 15-year-old daughter, Kylene.


And me.


Because it affected us both so deeply, as soon as it "came out on video" (remember those days?) I got permission from my students' parents to show the R-rated movie to my sophomore and junior English classes.


Over the next ten years, I shared Life as a House with English, psychology and peer resource classes. The lesson? Change.


I've rarely felt the "blows you away, makes you something different in an instant" happy change. (Maybe once - when I fell in love with my wife in less than a week??) More often, instant change - my brother dying in a freak accident - has been devastating change.


Many times, however, I've been transformed by the slow, constant "you don't even feel the difference until there is one" change.


I've experienced it with positive change: Improving my jumpshot. Developing my body. Maturity. Healing. Learning anything I've ever really learned.


And I've experienced it with negative change: My fading strength, reflexes and health. Withering relationships.


The primary theme of every class I've ever taught has involved exploring what we need to do in order to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. In Life as a House, teenage Sam (Hayden Christensen) wasn't doing that. He was struggling. He needed to change. First he needed to believe in change. Then he needed to be patient with change.


In this scene, his father, George (Kevin Klein), desperately tries to convince him that change is possible.

While recovering from cervical spine surgery during the past month and while living in a COVID-19 world during the past year, I've thought often of the Life as a House change scene. My post-surgery progress has been a series of barely perceptible, incremental improvements.


And we're not going to wake up tomorrow to a COVID-free country. Still, after leading the world in cases and deaths, good change is happening (at least in the USA). But it's been slow - small doses of hope.

What will this CDC graph look like on April 27, 2022? Will slow, constant change have eradicated its need to exist? Will we notice and appreciate how much better our post-COVID life is?