Because the devil we know is still the devil.
And yes, it seems much easier to deal with what we can at least predict than it is to risk drastic change.
The shackles are familiar. In time, we always develop coping routines to get us through another day. We learn to tell ourselves many different stories about how things could be worse, about how much we could lose by risking the status quo, how grateful we should be for what we have, and how nobody is ever really happy, so better just grin and bear it.
Besides, how much worse can it get? It’s not like we’re going to wake up not expecting disappointment.
To be fair, whatever place of stagnation we may find ourselves in might not be ALL that terrible. Maybe there are some advantages to whatever professional or personal arrangement we are bound to. Maybe some things are actually quite good. So unless someone’s outright abusing us…unless we’re starving or becoming bankrupt, is it really all that bad?
The truth is that even a gilded cage is still a cage, and chains of gold are still chains. Nicer ones are not really nicer. They’re just easier to justify keeping when we face the reality of our confinement and half-life…the extent to which we’ve compromised our genuine potential.
And it’s all part of the ‘familiar devil’ illusion – a terrible deception that obscures the fundamental difference between that knowing authenticity every heart and soul possesses, and the familiarity with confinement and stagnation in whatever aspect of our lives which we skillfully use to justify our fears. And why not, even laziness.
Still, it’s not easy to take risks in life. One thing to talk about and consider risk with the urgency, romanticism and passion of a dreamer, and quite another to take that risk and bring it into the daily grind we all face.
Most of us have much to consider, many commitments and obligations to meet. Change, no matter how promising, is tough when we realistically imagine the range of consequences we’ll have to address. Because there will be consequences, and some of them will not be pleasant. Idealism and drive, even at the most sincere levels, will necessarily fade when we face risk, especially when we’ve been burned before and know just how brutal life can get.
We have one life. It is short. And yes, it may be very complicated or difficult at times. Things could get worse. But things can also get better. Much better. Really great actually.
Being cautious and even pragmatic doesn’t mean adopting a bias of negativity. And if we initiate change, even drastic change, we at least stand to gain much more control over what happens than if we allow things to catch up with us and fall apart at a time of their own choosing.
Again…the devil we know is still the devil. And the sooner we accept that no matter how familiar our bindings, the truth will always catch up with us, the sooner we can start making room for a future we can invest in with all we have rather than a future we pay ransom for.
“Of what use were wings to a man fast bound in chains of iron?”
~ Adelbert von Chamisso