Mike arrived safely in Australia on Saturday morning. Hooray! We’ve had a wonderful time so far, except for the sleeping together.
As in the sleeping together in the same bed, just to clarify.
Mike and I have never been all that sleep compatible. He can climb into bed before 10pm and be happily asleep within 3 minutes. This inspires in me a great envy-fed annoyance, for I’m the type that climbs into bed at 10pm, reads for two hours, and then struggles for at least 30 minutes to tiptoe towards slumber. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we wake up differently, too. Mike usually springs awake in the 6’s (or earlier) as if some dawn fairy has plugged him straight into the sun and flicked the switch. And he’s not just wide awake, he’s also ridiculously cheerful about the fact that “it’s a brand new day”!!
That is so not how I wake up. Especially at the moment.
These differences have all sorts of implications for morning interactions, and during the last ten weeks I’ve become quite accustomed to getting up sometime between 7:30 and 8, joining my parents on the deck for a leisurely cup of tea before breakfast, and having discussions that are not too mentally taxing. Not to say my parents aren’t capable of mentally taxing in the morning, but more often than not these early conversations have consisted of discussing whether that white speck out to sea is a small boat or a breaching whale, the flight patterns of flocks of birds around the house, and everyone’s plans for the day.
Now, however, Mike is back. Which is probably why this morning saw us segue over coffee from carbon emissions and global warming to the issue of changing strongly held beliefs. What, Mike wanted to know, causes people to change strongly held beliefs? What did we used to firmly believe that we’ve changed our minds on? What triggered that shift?
“I used to believe that avocadoes were nasty,” Mum said. “I quite like them now.”
“That saying the sinner’s prayer is some sort of automatic ticket to salvation and heaven,” I said.
“Wow, honey,” Mike said. “You just leapt from avocadoes to the sinners prayer without pausing. Remarkable. Especially for this time of day.”
“Here’s another one,” I said. “That you can control who you fall in love with if you just try hard enough.”
“I still believe that,” Mike said.
“So do I,” Dad said.
“Nope,” Mum said. “I’m with Lisa on this one. There are some attractions that are impossible to squelch even if you know they’re unwise.”
“Yeah,” I said, “I’m not saying it’s impossible to control your behaviour related to the attraction, I’m just saying that sometimes it’s impossible to change your feelings through sheer force of will.”
Mike and Dad did not look convinced.
“What about you?” I asked them.
“I was a pacifist before you were born,” Dad said. “You changed that.”
“Yeah,” Mum said, poking me. “You, not me. No, not me.”
“Well,” Dad said. “You were big enough to defend yourself, Lisa wasn’t.”
“This I used to believe, that what doesn’t kill you always makes you stronger,” Mike said. “That was before Tajikistan nearly wrecked me. Now I believe that what doesn’t kill you sometimes leave you vulnerable and weakened.”
“I believe anyone who gets a tattoo comes from an unhappy family,” Mum said.
“No you don’t,” I said.
“Yes I do,” Mum said, with the satisfied grin of someone who has set out to ruffle feathers and succeeded.
“You’ve always said you believed that anyway,” Dad said. “So I hardly see how that’s relevant to this discussion.”
“Want to get a tattoo in Lismore this afternoon after your doctor’s appointment?” Mike asked, nuzzling my neck.
“Yes,” I said, seriously tempted. “But I can’t while I’m pregnant.”
“You can’t,” Dad needled, “because you came from a happy family.”
In the end we decided that most or all of the changes that have come about to our firmly held beliefs occurred as the result of personal experience – not because we read a book or someone argued us into changing our mind. What do you think? What is your “this I used to believe” and why did you change your mind?